10 November 1983

Bill Gates announces Windows 1.0.

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Microsoft chief Bill Gates unveils the Windows operating system for PCs. Don’t hold your breath waiting until you can buy a copy … unless you can hold your breath for two years.

Gates, Microsoft’s president and board chairman, held an elaborate event at New York City’s posh Helmsley Palace Hotel. The debutante at this ball was an operating system with a graphical user interface.

A History of Microsoft Windows Photo Gallery
BSOD Through the AgesIf you were struggling with the arcane and unfriendly MS-DOS, you were ready to get something that was easier to drive. Typing commands at the C prompt may have been a piece of C:\ake for programmers and geeks, but it was a pain in the wrist for the run-of-the-mill office chair jockey.

Microsoft started working on a product first called Interface Manager in September 1981. Early prototypes used MS Word-style menus at the bottom of the screen. That changed to pulldown menus and dialogs (a la Xerox Star) in 1982.

By 1983, Microsoft was facing competition from the just-released VisiOn and the forthcoming TopView. Apple had already released Lisa, but Digital’s GEM, Quarterdeck’s DESQ, the Amiga Workbench, IBM OS/2 and Tandy DeskMate were all still in the future.

18 June 1983

The astronaut Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space.

One of six women selected in NASA’s 1978 astronaut class, Sally Ride was the first of them to fly. When she rode aboard the space shuttle Challenger as it lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on June 18, 1983, she became the first American woman in space and captured the nation’s attention and imagination as a symbol of the ability of women to break barriers. As one of the three mission specialists on the STS-7 mission, she played a vital role in helping the crew deploy communications satellites, conduct experiments and make use of the first Shuttle Pallet Satellite. Her pioneering voyage and remarkable life helped, as President Barack Obama said soon after her death last summer, “inspire generations of young girls to reach for the stars” for she “showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve.”

Sally Ride was born in Los Angeles, California, on May 26, 1951. Fascinated by science from a young age, she pursued the study of physics, along with English, in school. As she was graduating from Stanford University with a Ph.D. in physics, having done research in astrophysics and free electron laser physics, Ride noticed a newspaper ad for NASA astronauts. She turned in an application, along with 8,000 other people, and was one of only 35 chosen to join the astronaut corps. Joining NASA in 1978, she served as the ground-based capsule communicator, or capcom, for the second and third space shuttle missions and helped with development of the space shuttle’s robotic arm.After her selection for the crew of STS-7, and thereby becoming the first American woman in space, Ride faced intense media attention.