A brief History of PowerPoint (and Facts You Did Not Know)

Last updated on November 14th, 2023

PowerPoint is one of the most widely used applications in the world and yet most people don’t even know about the name of its developer or the fact that PowerPoint was not initially developed for Microsoft Windows but rather for Apple’s Mac OS. It can be fascinating to explore the history of things we take for granted and PowerPoint is no different. Let’s take a look at a history of PowerPoint and some amazing facts you probably didn’t know about Microsoft PowerPoint and when did PowerPoint come out.

Early Development of PowerPoint

PowerPoint was developed by a former Berkeley Ph.D. student known as Robert Gaskins. His idea was to develop an easy-to-use presentation program based on a series of slides. As is the case with most successful ventures, PowerPoint had the most humble beginning from a place one wouldn’t have fancied as the best place to make the most extraordinary presentation software of its time. Gaskins joined a company named ‘Forethought’ and began working on PowerPoint by hiring a developer named Dennis Austin. Forethought was not the ideal place for such a venture because it was a failing Silicon Valley company. It turns out it became the ideal place for Gaskins to develop his software.

Early Development of PowerPoint - Robert Gaskins and the first UI interface of PowerPoint.
Early Development of PowerPoint – Robert Gaskins and the first UI interface of PowerPoint.

The initial release of PowerPoint for Mac and the acquisition by Microsoft

Originally designed for Apple’s Macintosh computers, the first version of PowerPoint was named “Presenter”, however, the name had to be scrapped due to Trademark issues and was later changed to PowerPoint in 1987. The developers of the initial release included Dennis Austin and Thomas Rudkin. The same year Microsoft bought the application for $14 million.

PowerPoint 1.0
Screenshot of PowerPoint 1.0 User Interface

PowerPoint 97 Releases with major upgrades

It can be arguably said that what made PowerPoint as the most widely sought presentation app was its version 97 release. PowerPoint 97 brought new changes to the old version with major upgrades. Earlier versions had linear presentations, whereas, the incorporation of Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) language allowed users to invoke pre-defined transitions and effects within a non-linear style, similar to a movie. The best part was that these transitions and effects required no programming knowledge by the end user.

PowerPoint 97
PowerPoint 97

Evolution of PowerPoint between 1998 to 2010

From version 97 onwards, PowerPoint came up with new features and better templates that improved according to the different UIs and graphics introduced with the passage of time. Before there was the Modern UI, who can forget Windows 98 or Windows 2000 (especially if you are a child of the 90s), which now seems like a UI for a 16-bit game. However, it was not only the UI but other major features that evolved PowerPoint with the passage of time, including the improved Ribbon UI, better formatting tools, web integration, video and audio embedding features and more. PowerPoint releases for Microsoft Windows between 1999-2010 included PowerPoint 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2010 , whereas, the Mac versions between 1998-2010 included; PowerPoint 1998, 2001, X, 2004, 2008 and 2011.

PowerPoint From Version 2000 to 2010
Evolution of PowerPoint between 1998 and 2010

PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

The latest version of PowerPoint for Mac (till date) is version 2011. PowerPoint 2011 came with increased efficiency and the ability to present presentations remotely, which was a feature geared towards professional users to help them improve communication and reduce travel costs. This feature is known as Broadcast Slide Show and enables the presenter to present presentations via the web without any other software.

PowerPoint 2011 For Mac
PowerPoint for Mac

PowerPoint 2013 for Windows

The latest version of PowerPoint for Windows is PowerPoint 2013, which is compatible with Windows 7 and the Modern UI based Windows 8 operating systems. Other than compatibility with the conventional Office Suite, it also comes with the tablet version of Windows 8 called Office RT. You can find out more about PowerPoint 2013 from these posts:


Windows versions of PowerPoint (Timeline)

Below is a timeline of PowerPoint versions for Windows based operating systems, with logos of the most compatible versions of the Windows OS for the given versions of PowerPoint.

Timeline Of Windows Versions of PowerPoint

(Timeline Created With: Arrow Timeline Diagram PowerPoint Template)

Mac versions of PowerPoint (Timeline)

Below is a timeline of PowerPoint versions for Mac.

Timeline Of Mac Versions Of PowerPoint

(Timeline Created With: Free Simple Process Timeline Chart Template for PowerPoint)

PowerPoint for Mobile Devices

Recently, Microsoft has released various mobile variants for MS Office applications, including; MS PowerPoint. You can find out more about these apps from the following links:

PowerPoint For Mobile Devices

Fan Facts about PowerPoint

Here are some unbelievable facts that about PowerPoint.

Who created PowerPoint?

PowerPoint was originally developed for Macintosh computers by Robert Gaskins and Dennis Austin in 1984. The name of the company that developed PowerPoint was Forethought, Inc., however, at that time the name was not PowerPoint, it was Presenter.

Who owns PowerPoint?

Since the acquisition of PowerPoint back in 1984, the owner of PowerPoint is Microsoft Corporation.

What was the original name of PowerPoint?

The original name for PowerPoint was “Presenter” and it was later changed to just “PowerPoint” to align with the naming convention of other Microsoft Office products.

When was the first version of PowerPoint released?

The first version of PowerPoint for Windows was released in 1987. In this same year, Microsoft purchased the rights to PowerPoint from Forethought, Inc.

Example of About PowerPoint interface in the first version of PowerPoint
Example of About PowerPoint interface in the first version of PowerPoint

What was the price paid by Microsoft in the acquisition of PowerPoint?

PowerPoint was originally released with the name “Presenter”, and it was available for the Apple Macintosh in 1987. In this same year, Microsoft Corporation ended purchasing the rights to PowerPoint for $14 million from Forethought, Inc.

How many languages are supported in PowerPoint?

PowerPoint is available in over 40 languages.

How many users have PowerPoint?

PowerPoint has over 1 billion users worldwide.

When was PowerPoint created?

Robert Gaskins and Dennis Austin created PowerPoint in 1987. If we consider the first release of PowerPoint as the foundation date, then PowerPoint was first released by Microsoft Corporation on April 20, 1987, and available for the Apple Macintosh computer.

Who created the built-in PowerPoint templates in Microsoft PowerPoint?

PowerPoint’s design templates have been created by professional designers and include over 60 themes and thousands of individual slide designs. Other professional slide templates can be found in sites such as SlideModel.

What was the longest PowerPoint presentation?

The record for the longest PowerPoint presentation is currently held by a group of students from Missouri, who presented for 139 hours straight in 2017.

In 2014, Ryan Allis delivered a presentation titled “Lessons from my 20’s” with 1286 slides (source).

The longest ever PowerPoint presentation with more than 1900 slides!
The longest ever PowerPoint presentation with more than 1900 slides!

What is the default font in PowerPoint?

The default font in PowerPoint is Calibri, which replaced Times New Roman as the default font in Microsoft Office 2007.

What are some other fan facts about PowerPoint?

PowerPoint has a range of hidden features and shortcuts that can make it easier to use and save time.

PowerPoint has been used for a variety of non-presentation purposes, such as creating animations, designing websites, and even creating art.

The irony of PowerPoint

It’s quite an irony that Robert Gaskins’ PowerPoint attracted the first venture capital investment ever made by Apple, however, after the release of the Macintosh version of PowerPoint in 1987, it became one of the most significant acquisitions ever made by Microsoft. In fact, Microsoft even setup a business unit in Silicon Valley to further develop the application and Robert Gaskins headed the group for five whole years, further enhancing the PowerPoint application. Interestingly, 36 years later, over one billion computers worldwide run PowerPoint.

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