Forethought, Inc.

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Forethought, Inc.
Company typePrivate
Founded1983; 41 years ago (1983)
Defunct1987 (1987)
FateAcquired by Microsoft

Forethought, Inc. was a computer software company, best known as developers of what is now Microsoft PowerPoint.


In late 1983, Rob Campbell and Taylor Pohlman founded Forethought, Inc in order to develop object-oriented bit-mapped application software. In 1984, they hired Robert Gaskins, a former Ph.D. student at the University of California, Berkeley, in exchange for a large percentage of the company's stock. He and software developer Dennis Austin led the development of a program called Presenter, which they later renamed PowerPoint.[1] Also in 1984, Forethought acquired the rights to publish a Macintosh version of a DOS-based application called Nutshell. They named the Mac version FileMaker and it soon became enormously successful.[2]

PowerPoint 1.0 was released in 1987 for the Apple Macintosh. It ran in black and white, generating text-and-graphics pages for overhead transparencies. A new full-color version of PowerPoint shipped a year later after the first color Macintosh came to market. Later in 1987, Forethought and PowerPoint were purchased by Microsoft Corporation for $14 million (~$32.2 million in 2023).[3] In May 1990 the first Windows 3.0 versions were produced. Since 1990, PowerPoint has been a standard part of the Microsoft Office suite of applications except for the Basic Edition. Microsoft PowerPoint would go on to become the most used and sought after presentation suite, having a 95% market share.


  1. ^ Parker, Ian. "Absolute Powerpoint". Ohio State University. Archived from the original on 26 August 2021. Retrieved 23 August 2021.
  2. ^ Koenig, Glenn (2004-04-02). "The Origin of FileMaker". Dancing-Data. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
  3. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; Microsoft Buys Software Unit". The New York Times. 1987-07-31. Retrieved 2006-12-02.