Microsoft's "Revenue Bomb" of the early 1980s
The plan: Develop the same software for every computer platform they could find (including C64, Apple II, and UNIX).
It is fascinating to look back at the way Microsoft’s approach to the software industry has changed over the years.
Case in point: In the early 1980s, Microsoft was attempting to make software for every microcomputer they could find. This was an effort they called “The Revenue Bomb”.
Multiplan: The first “Revenue Bomb” software
In 1982, Microsoft released a new spreadsheet program which was envisioned as a direct competitor to VisiCalc (which was the first commercially successful spreadsheet software).
Initially, that new Microsoft Software was called “Electronic Paper” (aka “EP”). The idea was to unseat VisiCalc by doing something truly impressive: Releasing Electronic Paper for as many computer platforms as humanly possible.
Microsoft was — at least in the early days — a very “multi-platform” computer company. Developing core operating systems and BASIC implementations for a wide variety of platforms (including Commodore 64, Apple II, Tandy, and so many others). Heck, they even made hardware for the Apple II.
In order to accomplish this task, Microsoft developed a P-Code C compiler which they could then, in turn, port to a number of existing 8-bit platforms… all without needing to make any (substantial) changes to the core code of Electronic Paper itself.