The Strange Coincidence That Built Wintel

On this day in economic and business history...

Microsoft and Intel are so closely connected that they have their own celebrity-style name mash-up: Wintel. While it's commonly thought that this enormously successful pairing began when both companies gained key placement in the earliest PCs, it actually started two years earlier, on June 18, 1979. That day, Microsoft released its flagship BASIC programming language for Intel's 8086 processors, setting in motion a chain of events that would lead the company's to the first PC -- and eventually to market dominance.

Intel's 8086 microprocessor laid the foundations for Intel's flagship x86 architecture and was also the company's first 16-bit CPU. Microsoft's BASIC was its first product, originally devised for the first true microcomputer and later successfully ported to other systems. Like chocolate and peanut butter, these two great computing concerns were made for each other -- but that alone doesn't explain how both companies wound up in the original PC. Marcel Brown writes on the blog This Day in Tech History:

By developing for the 8086 processor, [Microsoft] soon formed a relationship with Seattle Computer Products, one of the first companies building computers with an 8086 processor.

As fate would have it, in 1980 Seattle Computer Products was forced to develop an operating system for their computers because a version of the very popular CP/M operating system was delayed for the 8086. It was this 8086 operating system, which SCP called QDOS (for Quick and Dirty Operating System), that Microsoft soon bought the rights for and licensed to IBM for their new PC. And Microsoft thus began their transformation from a simple software development company in the early history of personal computing to one of the most dominant technology companies in history.

Two decades later, both Intel and Microsoft had become the dominant players in PC hardware and software, respectively, and they were rewarded for their corporate successes with spots on the Dow Jones Industrial Averagenear the peak of the dot-com bubble.

The birth of modern delivery
was founded on June 18, 1971 by Fred Smith, a young entrepreneur only a few years removed from Yale. Smith had devised an integrated air and ground delivery system -- the first of its kind -- while at Yale, and the broker would be only a stepping stone toward realizing his ambition. The funding for such a business (jets don't come cheap) came from the inheritance left by a successfully entrepreneurial father, greatly augmented by what was then the largest amount of venture capital ever raised by a start-up. Two years later, 14 FedEx jets took off from the company's hub at Memphis International Airport, and FedEx was on its way toward reshaping the global delivery industry.

Click here to read a detailed overview of FedEx's origins and its rise to prominence.

Making sense of online advertising
Google publicly launched AdSense, its targeted site-advertising platform, on June 18, 2003. The program, which had been in trial mode for several months, was Google's first real effort to broaden the reach of its monetization strategies beyond the ads that show up when someone uses the Google search engine. AdSense would operate without searches, instead indexing the copy on websites and using it to serve customized ad results.

The technology had been largely developed by a company called Applied Semantics, which Google had purchased two months earlier to bolster its contextual-advertising capabilities. The potential for this new advertising technology was immediately apparent: By becoming a self-service advertiser of choice for the entire Internet, Google could generate revenue whether or not people happened to be using its search engine at any given moment. Google's control over so much of the Internet's advertising infrastructure has not been without controversy, but this expansion has been greatly beneficial for the company, which now generates roughly a quarter of its advertising revenue from placement on independent websites.

Interested in Intel?
When it comes to dominating markets, it doesn't get much better than Intel's position in the PC microprocessor arena. However, that market is maturing, and Intel must find new avenues for growth. In this premium research report on Intel, a Motley Fool analyst runs through all of the key topics investors should understand about the chip giant. Click here now to learn more.

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Fool contributor Alex Planes owns shares of Intel. Add him on Google+ or follow him on Twitter @TMFBiggles for more insight into markets, history, and technology.The Motley Fool recommends FedEx, Google, and Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google, Intel, International Business Machines, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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