Dennis Austin, who co-created PowerPoint, handed away at his residence in Los Altos, California, on September 1st, experiences The Washington Submit. His son, Michael Austin, stated he’d had lung most cancers that had metastasized to his mind, in accordance with the Submit. He was 76 years previous.
Austin studied engineering at a number of universities, together with MIT and UC Santa Barbara, earlier than going to work as a software program developer, ultimately becoming a member of the software program firm Forethought and co-developing PowerPoint. The corporate launched the software program in 1987, and Microsoft purchased the corporate just some months later. Austin served as PowerPoint’s major developer from 1985 to 1996 when he retired.
The Washington Submit notes that Robert Gaskins, PowerPoint’s different co-creator, wrote in his guide Sweating Bullets: Notes about Inventing PowerPoint that Austin “got here up with a minimum of half of the main design concepts” and added that if he hadn’t been designing the software program, “nobody would ever have heard of it.”
Regardless of its 36-year historical past as essentially the most ubiquitous software program for shows, PowerPoint has its detractors; Jeff Bezos as soon as stated that “we outlawed PowerPoint shows at Amazon,” calling the transfer “in all probability the neatest factor we ever did.” Steve Jobs was quoted in Walter Isaacson’s Jobs biography as saying, “Individuals who know what they’re speaking about don’t want PowerPoint.”
The Atlantic in August printed a narrative about “The Nice PowerPoint Panic of 2003,” saying that 20 years in the past, individuals thought it might “corrode our minds, degrade communication, and waste our time.” Nonetheless, PowerPoint has had its followers, too, together with The Speaking Heads lead singer David Byrne, although he beloved it not for its meant function however for its potential as a creative software.
The software program stays a key a part of Microsoft’s suite of workplace instruments to this present day. Lately, the corporate has begun including AI tooling to PowerPoint utilizing Copilot, a form of modern-day Clippy AI assistant for Microsoft 365. It may be prompted to create shows or to generate photos and alter the tone or format of textual content inside a presentation.
Correction September ninth, 2023, 6:13PM ET: This text initially wrote that Robert Gaskins is known as Michael Gaskins, which is wrong, and has been mounted. We remorse the error.