What Is the History of Microsoft Word?

Microsoft Word, first released in 1983 as “Multi-Tool Word,” is a word processor available as a standalone product and as a component in the Microsoft Office suite. The first version of Microsoft Word was based on the framework of Bravo, the world’s first word processor with a graphical user interface.

Following the renaming of Multi-Tool Word to Microsoft Word, Microsoft released its first version of Word in October 1983 for the IBM PC. In 1985, Microsoft ported Word to the Macintosh, featuring major interface changes from its DOS-based counterpart on the IBM PC. Following the Macintosh port, Microsoft released a version of Word for its Windows operating system in 1989, which brought in improved sales figures.

Microsoft Word was the first word processor to introduce the concept of “What You See Is What You Get,” or WYSIWYG, allowing for bold and italics text to be created and displayed. Word also included full support for the mouse and sold a version of Word with a mouse included in the package, due to the mouse being such a new device at the time.

In 2014, Microsoft made the source code for Microsoft Word for Windows 1.1a available to both the Computer History Museum and the public for educational purposes.