Microsoft Corporation (MSFT), Google Inc (GOOG): The Strange Coincidence That Built Wintel

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On this day in economic and business history…

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) are so closely connected that they have their own celebrity-style name mash-up: Wintel. While it’s commonly thought that this enormously successful pairing began when both companies gained key placement in the earliest PCs, it actually started two years earlier, on June 18, 1979. That day, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) released its flagship BASIC programming language for Intel’s 8086 processors, setting in motion a chain of events that would lead the company’s to the first PC — and eventually to market dominance.
Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)

Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC)’s 8086 microprocessor laid the foundations for Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC)’s flagship x86 architecture and was also the company’s first 16-bit CPU. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s BASIC was its first product, originally devised for the first true microcomputer and later successfully ported to other systems. Like chocolate and peanut butter, these two great computing concerns were made for each other — but that alone doesn’t explain how both companies wound up in the original PC. Marcel Brown writes on the blog This Day in Tech History:

By developing for the 8086 processor, [Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)] soon formed a relationship with Seattle Computer Products, one of the first companies building computers with an 8086 processor.

As fate would have it, in 1980 Seattle Computer Products was forced to develop an operating system for their computers because a version of the very popular CP/M operating system was delayed for the 8086. It was this 8086 operating system, which SCP called QDOS (for Quick and Dirty Operating System), that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) soon bought the rights for and licensed to International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) for their new PC. And Microsoft thus began their transformation from a simple software development company in the early history of personal computing to one of the most dominant technology companies in history.

Two decades later, both Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) had become the dominant players in PC hardware and software, respectively, and they were rewarded for their corporate successes with spots on the Dow Jones Industrial Average 2 Minute (INDEXDJX:.DJI) near the peak of the dot-com bubble.

The birth of modern delivery

FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX) was founded on June 18, 1971 by Fred Smith, a young entrepreneur only a few years removed from Yale. Smith had devised an integrated air and ground delivery system — the first of its kind — while at Yale, and the broker would be only a stepping stone toward realizing his ambition. The funding for such a business (jets don’t come cheap) came from the inheritance left by a successfully entrepreneurial father, greatly augmented by what was then the largest amount of venture capital ever raised by a start-up. Two years later, 14 FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX) jets took off from the company’s hub at Memphis International Airport, and FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX) was on its way toward reshaping the global delivery industry.

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