History of Microsoft PowerPoint & What is Offered Today - ARCHIVED

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2008 and has been placed in our archive.

The Beginning

Bill Gates knows a good thing when he sees it, and in 1987, he monitored the whirlwind of program fruition, purchase, reselling, and marketing of Robert Gaskins’ PowerPoint Presentation. Gaskins, a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, created PowerPoint at his own R&D Laboratories, first for an offer by Apple and then for a better Microsoft bid. Apple had slated their “Presentation” to run on the Apple II line of Macintosh with the goal of providing presenters with digitalized slides to accompany their speeches. In a $14 million dollar buyout, Gates brought the program (and Gaskins) to Microsoft, changing “Presentation” to the familiar Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation.

By combining notations, slides, and audio, this office tool, now selling over $100 million annually, would revolutionize the world of presentations. However, it would take 14 years to complete these three basic functions, and Gaskins set to work at the Microsoft Business unit from 1987 to 1993 with the sole intention of managing the growth of PowerPoint.


PowerPoint 1.0 came with an impressive 236 color graphics card and its share of problems, and in the end it wasn’t as attractive as the standard slide projector or over-head monitor. The program allowed users to easily add headings and text to slides, but the digitalizing of photographs was expensive and limited users to large businesses and government.

PowerPoint 2.0 helped curb this problem by providing users with digitalized transfers of their 35mm slides. Customers could send their photographs and graphics to the partnering company Genigraphics and have their PowerPoint slides processed in over 16 million colors overnight. This update was first introduced for Macs in 1988 and for Windows in 1990 and sold a myriad more than its 17 competitors.

But it was PowerPoint 3.0 that brought the program’s three fundamental functions of photograph, notation, and audio presentation together. Released for both Windows and Mac in 1992, Microsoft PowerPoint 3.0 included options to output live video, supported synchronize sound and video clips, animations, and added slide transition graphics, and animations. With a full sense of completion, Robert Gaskins left his position at Microsoft in 1993 to restore a historic mansion with his wife in London.

PowerPoint would go through four more phases after Gaskins’ departure, each increasing the revenues of the now standard program. In the mid-1990s, PowerPoint was packaged with the popular Excel and Word as the three-for-one Microsoft Office, which provided business users with the full bundle of Microsoft’s largest selling office programs for a reduced price. The Internet brought HTML to PowerPoint 97, and users were given the ability to save their presentations as web files. As online communications grew, PowerPoint 2000 continued this tradition by adding video conferencing and presenter videos.

Power Point Today

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2008 and is based on MS Power Point 2003.

Standard Templates

PowerPoint comes with 44 standard templates complete with a variety of graphics, borders, and layout designs. In addition, users can download templates for free from the Microsoft PowerPoint website. Templates can be assigned to all the slides in a presentation or can be individualized for each slide and can be embellished with graphics, logos, or photographs, and users can add voice or video narration to slides as they choose. If you are interested in information on how to do the latter, check out Noel Kalicharan’s series of tutorials that describe using audio in PowerPoint presentations

Prints Slides as Handouts

Noticing the need for audience handouts in conjunction with dictated presentations, PowerPoint also allows users to print physical handouts of notes associated with each slide. Originally intended to be separate from the slide itself, these handouts are created just below the slide in a text box marked “Notes.” Presenters can print an outline of their notes and have the choice of printing anywhere from 1 to 9 slides per page.

Communicate Slides Through Electronic Means

PowerPoint takes the meeting out of the board room by connecting users to the World Wide Web through embedded hyperlinks, video conferencing, and electronic file transferring. Users can publish their presentation as a web file or package it for CD.

Before PowerPoint was introduced to the personal computer community, business professionals and academics dealt with black and white overhead projectors and costly 34mm slides. Presenters worked with a team of graphic designers, artists, and layout specialist to create multimedia designs, and mistakes could not easily be fixed. Today, Microsoft PowerPoint gives the users the power to make, design, and control their presentations from start to finish.

Overview of Features

Main Function

Today Power Point offers a helpful service for many people. Microsoft PowerPoint ’s main function is the creation of slides to use in conjunction with business presentations and/or academic lectures, and the program is designed to give the creator complete control over their presentations. It is important to remember that, while PowerPoint has a lot of features to keep your audience tuned in, the presenter is still the main focus, so don’t read directly from your slides or handouts unless you want your audience to tune out. Keep presentations focused on human interaction and let the multi-media and print presentations serve as tools of enhancement.

Creating Master Slides

The “Slide Master” option allows users to customize the background, graphic, and bullet style of each slide. To create master slides select the View Menu from the top right tool bar and choose the Master Menu option. From here users can access the following preferences: Slide Master, Handout Master, and Notes Master.

Enhance Slides with Audio and Video

Presenters can add audio and video to their slides in the form of narration, musical accompaniment, or applicable third-party commentary. Audio and video enhancements can add an extra layer of communication when face to face interactions are not available, but when the presenter is available it is important not to rely on audio narration and to engage the audience with interludes of back and forth dialogue.

Uploading Audio and Video

Users can add audio to individual slides by selecting the Insert Menu located at the top right of the screen and choosing the “Movies and Sounds” option. From this menu you can choose from the following options: Movie from Clip Organizer, Movie from File, Sound from Clip Organizer, Sound from File, and Play CD Audio Track, Record Sound. To record slide show narration, select “Slide Show” from the top right drop menu and choose “Record Narration.”

This article has been placed in our archives.