Microsoft’s History Of Email
Looking back over the history of email, the timeline for Outlook’s original manifestation begins in the 1980s with a Canadian company called Consumers Software. Founded by Jack Grushcow, Consumers Software created one of the earliest email packages for local area networks, called Network Courier. Dick Hardt, the founder of Sxip Networks, is credited with porting Network Courier to Windows 1.03 in 1986. It was around this time that Microsoft had begun work on their first email product, Microsoft Mail, in addition to designing the Messaging Application Programming Interface (MAPI.) In 1988 the first version of Microsoft Mail was released for use on Appletalk (Mac) networks. Then, In 1991, Microsoft purchased Consumers Network and used Network Courier as the foundation for Microsoft Mail for PC networks.
This version of Microsoft Mail (2.5) was released with Micosoft Office For Windows 1.06 in 1991. The following year, Microsoft Mail 3.0 was released, both as part of Microsoft Office for Windows 3.0, and as a standalone application that included a program called Microsoft Schedule+ for Windows. While the Mail application can be seen as the basis for Outlook’s email functionality, Schedule+ can be considered the origin of Outlook’s calendaring, or Personal Information Management (PIM) component.
Change Brings Exchange
The five-year period between the release of MS Mail 3.0 and the introduction of Outlook 97 was one of dynamic change. The release of Microsoft Office 95 brought the next version of Schedule+ (referred to as version 7 to indiate its status as contemporary with Word 7.0.) The email client released with Windows 95 was called Microsoft Exchange, which was later renamed to Windows Messaging as Microsoft Exchange Server 4.0 was introduced as the successor to Microsoft Mail 3.5.
Microsoft Exchange Server has continued to evolve from the time of its release in 1996 to the present day. Its client counterpart, Microsoft Exchange Client, is the direct predecessor of Microsoft Outlook. The final version of Schedule+ (7.5) is considered to be the foundation of the time management side of Outlook, although it was inlcuded, along with Outlook 97, in the release of Microsoft Office 97.
An Argument For Credit
It has been observed that, oftentimes, advancements in technology can be obscured by what precedes them and what follows them. In this particular case, Outlook appears to be more the result of a name change following the combining of two previously existing applications, rather than a unique creation attributable to any one person. However, if any single person, based on available information, deserves credit as the creator of Microsoft Outlook, Jack Grushcow seems to be the most logical choice.
Jack Grushcow began Consumers Software working independently. He is therefore individually responsible for creating the company that produced the program Microsoft purchased and built upon that would eventually be named "Outlook."
If you’re interested in more historical accounts of technology, you might enjoy discovering who invented the printer.