Chronology of Personal Computer Software

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References are numbered in [brackets], which are listed here. A number after the dot gives the page in the source.

Last updated: 2022 April 29.


January 9
  • Microsoft releases Microsoft Excel for Windows 3.0, with Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) technology. [123] [1299.421] [1501.12]
  • Digitalk introduces the Smalltalk/V for Windows object-oriented programming language. [1049.140]
  • Microsoft announces Microsoft Windows for Pen Computing. It will include handwriting-recognition software. [1093.159] [1149.393]
  • Go announces its PenPoint operating system for mobile pen-based computers. [675.197] [1093.159] [1149.393]
  • A judge rules that Mosaic Software infringed on Lotus Development's copyrights on Lotus 1-2-3. [217]
  • WordPerfect ships WordPerfect 2.0 for the Macintosh. [560.18]
  • Microsoft announces the Windows New Technology operating system. [909.232]
  • Lotus Development abandons plans for Lotus MarketPlace: Households for the Macintosh, and withdraws Lotus MarketPlace: Business. [414.262] [561.69]
  • Borland International introduces the Borland C++ programming language system for Windows. [1049.139]
  • Peachtree Software introduces the Peachtree Accounting for Windows software. [1049.142]
  • Borland International introduces ObjectVision for Windows, a visual application development tool. [1049.129]
March 6
  • In the lawsuit of Apple Computer versus Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard, Federal District Court Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco denies Hewlett-Packard's request to declare Apple's copyrights invalid, and also rejects Microsoft's argument that portions of Windows are covered by the 1985 license from Apple. However, the judge agrees to Microsoft's request to consider the copyright issue feature-by-feature, rather than on the basis of overall look and feel. [346.195]
  • Borland International introduces the Turbo Pascal for Windows software development package. [1049.140]
  • Berkeley Systems introduces the After Dark screen saver software for Windows. [1049.136]
March 18
  • In San Francisco, California, the Software Publisher's Association holds its Spring Symposium, including the Excellence in Software Awards ceremony. Winners include: Lifetime Achievement Award: Steve Wozniak. Best Consumer Program: GeoWorks Ensemble. Best Business Program: Microsoft Windows 3.0. [1498.64]
April 12
  • Apple Computer's John Sculley demonstrates to IBM engineers an IBM PS/2 Model 70 running Apple's "Pink" object-oriented operating system, appearing to be Apple's System 7.0 operating system. [618.308] [1721.29] [1880.20] [2605.69]
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  • Computer Associates introduces the ACCPAC Simply Accounting integrated small business accounting software for Windows. [1049.142]
  • Aldus releases the Aldus PageMaker 4.0 desktop publishing software for Windows. Price is US$795. [1049.132]
  • In Finland, Linus Torvalds begins developing a variant of the UNIX operating system. (It will emerge as Linux.) [1035.161] [1106.28] [1184.74] [1451.12] [1615.50] [1648.50] (1990 [1628.25]) (1993 [791.38])
  • Asymetrix releases ToolBook for Windows v1.5, an object-oriented visual development package. Price is US$395. [1049.129]
  • Microsoft releases Microsoft Excel 3.0 for the Macintosh. [706.42]
  • US District Court judge Terry Hatler reinstates Ashton-Tate's dBase copyrights, reversing his December 1990 decision. [26] [548.345] [679.51]
  • In the lawsuit of Apple Computer versus Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard, Apple broadens its suit to include Windows 3.0. [346.195]
(month unknown)
  • Novell releases the NetWare 2.2 network operating system. [682.154]
  • Novell releases the NetWare 3.11 network operating system. [682.154]
  • ZSoft introduces the Publisher's Paintbrush paint program for Windows. [1049.136]
  • Claris introduces the Claris Hollywood 1.0 presentation software for Windows. [1049.145]
  • Aldus introduces the Aldus Persuasion presentation software for Windows. [1049.144]
  • cc:Mail introduces cc:Mail for Windows. [1049.130]
  • One year after the release of Microsoft Windows 3.0, more than three million copies have been sold. [618.296] [1629.34] (over four million [1299.9])
  • Apple Computer ships its System 7.0 Macintosh operating system, two years after its announcement, for US$100. New features include drag and drop, networking, file sharing, task switching, document linking, and virtual memory. [27] [46] [75] [346.243] [414.230] [416.196] [548.159] [679.13] [750.52] [1205.34] [1295.9] [1648.54] [1880.20] [1886.68] (1990 [176.65])
  • Lotus Development announces Lotus 1-2-3 for the Macintosh. [414.231]
  • Apple Computer announces QuickTime software, for integration of dynamic media for Macintosh computers. [46] [140] [1886.68] (June [414.231])
  • Apple Computer begins distributing test versions of QuickTime to software developers. [704.23]
  • At the Comdex show, Microsoft announces the Microsoft Visual BASIC 1.0 visual programming language for Windows. Price is US$199. [123] [1049.139] [606.77] [1522.78] [1559]
June 11
  • On the cruise yacht New Yorker, dubbed the "DOS Boat", in New York City harbor, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer unveil MS-DOS 5.0. It adds a full-screen editor, undelete and unformat utilities, and task swapping. GW-BASIC is replaced with Qbasic, based on Microsoft's QuickBASIC. (One million copies are sold in six weeks.) [28] [146] [479.128] [748.29] [1149.1] [1299.431] [1583.18] [1627.12] [1897.129]
  • 3D Realms releases the Duke Nukem game for MS-DOS-based personal computers with EGA graphics. (The game becomes the best-selling shareware title in 1991 and 1992.) [1491.101]
  • Symantec introduces the Norton Desktop software for Windows. [1049.148]
  • MathSoft introduces the Mathcad mathematics software package for Windows. [1049.140]
  • Digitalk releases the Smalltalk/V 2.0 for Windows object-oriented programming language. Price is US$499.95. [1049.140]
  • Lotus Development wins its spreadsheet copyright lawsuit against Santa Cruz Operations, who is ordered to remove SCO Professional from the market within two months. [548.340]
  • Lotus Development ships Lotus 1-2-3 for Windows. [909.232] (August [1049.147])
(month unknown)
  • The Ami Pro 2.0 word processor is released. [1093.74]
  • The Pearl Agency in Germany develops the first software vending machine. The machines allow the buyer to view a demo or product description before purchasing the software on a diskette. [544.30]
  • Hayes Microcomputer Products announces LANstep, a network operating system for small offices. [451.A8]
  • Adobe ships Adobe Illustrator 3.0 for the Macintosh. [582.92] [618.226]
  • Apple Computer releases the A/UX v2.0 operating system. [712.221]
  • Quote by Mike Maples, vice-president of operating systems and applications at Microsoft: "My job is to get a fair share of the software applications market, and to me that's 100 percent.". [1149.401]
  • MicroProse releases the Civilization game for personal computers. [1478.72] (1992 [1206.64])
July 8
  • Microsoft begins development of Excel 4.0. [1701.337]
  • Delrina Technology introduces the WinFax Pro 2.0 fax utility for Windows. Price is US$119. [1049.131]
  • Microsoft vice president Brad Silverberg quote: DOS will be "with us forever. We've learned how passionate people are about DOS.". (Four years later, the release of Windows 95 excludes a separate release of MS-DOS.) [40]
  • Microsoft changes the name of OS/2 v3.0 to Windows NT. [40]
July (month)
  • Top selling MS-DOS computer game in the USA during the month: Castles. [1530.66]
(month unknown)
  • Steve Jobs agrees with his NeXT company advisors to port the NeXTSTEP operating system to the Intel 80x86 architecture. [734.318]
August 2
  • Ashton-Tate announces it will reduce its workforce by fifteen percent. [2355.35]
  • Microsoft introduces the Microsoft QuickC for Windows 1.0 software development package. Price is US$199. [1049.139]
  • Symantec releases the Zortech C++ 3.0 software development package for Windows, DOS, and OS/2. Price is US$699. [1049.140]
August (month)
  • Top selling MS-DOS computer game in the USA during the month: AD&D: Gateway to the Savage Frontier. [1530.66]
(month unknown)
  • Spreadsheet software market share in the US: Lotus 1-2-3 39.7%, Microsoft Excel 28.6%, Quattro Pro 25%. [1440.16]
September 3
  • Lotus Development ships Lotus 1-2-3 for Windows. Price is US$595. [2358.D4]
September 4
  • Sun Microsystems announces it is developing a version of its Solaris operating system for Intel-based personal computers. [1080.198] [2360.D4]
  • Microsoft introduces the Microsoft Works for Windows 2.0 integrated software package. Price is US$199. [1049.138] [1701.352]
  • Microsoft introduces Publisher for Windows 1.0 desktop publishing software. [1049.132]
  • WordStar International introduces WordStar for Windows software. [1049.151]
  • Microsoft introduces Microsoft Money 1.0 personal financial software for Windows. Price is US$69.95. [1049.142]
  • Caere introduces the OmniPage Professional 2.0 optical character recognition software for Windows. Price is US$995. [1049.141]
  • Digital Research releases DR DOS 6.0, for US$100. This is the first PC operating system to include disk compression software, provided by SuperStor. [43] [548.366] [750.58]
(month unknown)
  • Quantum Computer Services releases the America Online software for DOS. [1280.46]
  • Microsoft releases Windows 3.0a with Multimedia Extensions. Included is Microsoft's first media player software; it can play CD audio and WAV files. [1608.38] [1897.129]
  • DeScribe introduces the DeScribe Word Processor 3.0 for Windows. Price is US$495. [1049.150]
  • Lotus Development introduces the Freelance Graphics for Windows 1.0 presentation software. [1049.145]
  • Intuit introduces the Quicken for Windows personal accounting software. [1049.142]
  • Microsoft introduces the Microsoft Bookshelf 1991 Edition reference software for Windows. [1049.141] [1080.42]
  • Microsoft releases Microsoft Word for Windows 2.0. Price is US$495. [1049.151]
  • At the COMDEX show, Microsoft gives the first public demonstration of Windows NT. [909.232]
  • At Fall Comdex, IBM formally introduces OS/2 2.0, to be shipped by early spring. [1149.408]
October (month)
  • Top selling MS-DOS computer game in the USA during the month: Police Quest 3. [2312.58]
(month unknown)
  • Novell ships NetWare Lite 1.0 peer-to-peer LAN operating system. Price is US$99 per node. [1038.246]
November 8
  • WordPerfect releases WordPerfect for Windows. [1049.151] [1527.174] (1992 [618.321])
  • Borland International introduces the Turbo C++ for Windows software development package. [1049.140]
  • Borland International introduces the Borland C++ Application Frameworks software development package for Windows. [1049.139]
  • Ventura Software introduces Ventura Publisher desktop publishing software for Windows. [1049.133]
  • Que Software introduces the RightWriter software for Windows. Price is US$99.95. [1049.151]
  • Adobe Systems releases the Adobe Type Manager 2.0 for Windows software. Price is US$99. [1049.147]
  • Borland International releases ObjectVision for Windows v2.0, a visual application development tool. Price is US$149.95. [1049.129]
  • Microsoft announces the Multimedia Edition of Microsoft Works 2.0 for Windows, on CD-ROM. [123]
(month unknown)
  • IBM exits from the desktop software market. [728.45] [1080.28]
  • Claris introduces the ClarisWorks applications package for the Macintosh, integrating word processing, graphics, spreadsheet, charts, database management, and communications. [1080.52]
  • Total sales of MS-DOS to date: 100 million. [606.141] (80 million [1149.231])
  • Aldus introduces the Aldus FreeHand paint program for Windows. [1049.133]
  • Software Publishing introduces Harvard Graphics for Windows 1.0. Price is US$595. [1049.145]
  • Microsoft buys the Access database program. [1700.34]
  • Apple Computer ships QuickTime 1.0, supporting video tracks and soundtracks. [75] [884.64]
  • Lotus Development ships Lotus 1-2-3 for Macintosh v1.0. [548.159] [1038.224]
December 31
  • Total sales of Lotus 1-2-3 to date: 16 million. [606.152]
  • Total shipments of Microsoft Windows 3.0 to date: 15 million. [606.141]
December (month)
  • Top selling MS-DOS computer game in the USA during the month: Police Quest 3. [1531.50]
  • Shipments of Microsoft DOS 5.0 during the year: 8 million. [1299.431]
  • Market share of personal computer software: Microsoft 29%, Lotus Development 13%, WordPerfect 8%. [1700.24]
  • Desktop operating system market share in the world: Microsoft Windows 75%. [1429.58]

End of 1991. Next: 1992.
The complete timeline can be purchased in a PDF file for US$10 from the author.

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1972-1979 1980-1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
1990 1991 1992-1993 1994-1995 1996-1997 1998-1999 2000-2001 2002-2003 2004 2005

A list of references to all source material is available.

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