Microsoft shipped the first version of Windows on November 20, 1985. The company went public on March 13, 1986. That means that Microsoft pulled the trigger on its IPO mere months after Windows was first launched into the market.
Until today I didn’t know that the two events occurred so close together. Given that I was roughly negative 3 or 4 at the time, I’ve decided to forgive myself.
Whatever the case, if you go back and read the original S-1 documents that current tech giants filed often decades ago, you run into some pretty funny stuff. How a company spoke about itself when it was a fraction of the size is always somewhat humorous, given that we have the gift of hindsight that the company lacked at the time — Oh, you thought that was going to work.
In the Microsoft S-1, the company’s explanation of Windows, then still essentially brand-spanking-new, is awesome.
Here’s how Microsoft described the platform that would define its next several decades:
In November 1985, Microsoft began shipping Microsoft Windows, a graphical operating environment which runs on the Microsoft MS-DOS operating system. As an extension of MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows manages such hardware as the keyboard, screen, and printer. This product allows new applications programs to present themselves in a standard and graphical manner that is independent of video or other output devices. Microsoft is encouraging independent software developers to create applications programs which will take advantage of Microsoft Windows graphical user interface features. Lotus Development recently announced its intent to pursue the development of applications products that will run on Windows. Microsoft’s own new applications software will be based on Microsoft Windows. It is too early in the life of Microsoft Windows to determine what level of acceptance it will attain in the marketplace.