Microsoft is the world's largest software company with over 50,000 employees in various countries around the world. It was started in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen to develop BASIC language interpreters for the Altair 8800 microprocessor. The BASIC language is what is called a high level language that makes programming less tedious than programming directly in the machine language (in this case the 8800 machine instruction set). Bill Gates and Paul Allen were trying to develop the program that would "convert" BASIC language constructs to 8800 machine language. The firm's second product was its FORTRAN (another high level language) compiler. A compiler does the same thing as an interpreter only a new program is produced in the process of compiling and it is this program that is executed to perform whatever task is desired. The third product was a COBOL (a high level business oriented language) compiler.
The key moment came for Microsoft in the late 1970's when IBM was planning to enter the personal computer market. IBM asked Microsoft to develop an operating system for their PC. Microsoft did not do operating systems up to that point in time so they suggested a system called CP/M from Digital Research. The owner of Digital Research died unexpectedly and negotiations fell through. There was another company by the name of Seattle Computer Products had that developed a clone of CP/M called Quick and Dirty Operating System (QDOS).
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