Dennis Austin, co-creator of PowerPoint, has died

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Dennis Austin, one of the co-creators and developers behind PowerPoint, has passed away. The man was 76 years old and died of lung cancer. In the 1980s, Austin worked at Forethought, a company that developed software for creating digital presentations.

Austin died on September 1, but the news only became known this week through an article from The Washington Post. Austin was a software developer and co-founded PowerPoint in 1987: a computer program that can be used to create digital slide shows.

Austin was responsible for PowerPoint’s user interface and developed a so-called ‘direct-manipulation’ interface. This allowed users to view adjustments to a slideshow immediately on screen. According to a Forethought project manager, Robert Gaskins, Austin was responsible for many ideas regarding the software’s interface. “If Dennis had not designed the software, we might never have heard of it,” is said in the book Sweating Bullets: Notes About Inventing PowerPoint, which further explains the history of PowerPoint.

PowerPoint was released for Macintosh in 1987. A few months after the software hit the market, Microsoft bought Forethought for about $14 million. This gave the company the presentation software. Austin, together with Gaskins and his colleagues, was transferred to a new division of Microsoft that would manage the further development of PowerPoint.

PowerPoint version 1.0 – Source: Graphic Mama

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