Robert Gaskins invented PowerPoint, drawing on ten years of interdisciplinary graduate study at Berkeley and five years as manager of computer science research for an international telecommunications R&D laboratory in Silicon Valley.
Gaskins managed the design and development of PowerPoint as a startup where it attracted the first venture capital investment ever made by Apple Computer. Soon after PowerPoint was released for Macintosh, in 1987, it became the first significant acquisition ever made by Microsoft, who set up a new business unit in Silicon Valley to develop it further. Gaskins then headed this new Microsoft group for another five years, completing versions of the PowerPoint product through the explosive initial growth of Microsoft Windows and the creation of the Microsoft Office bundle including PowerPoint.
Gaskins has recently written a book published to coincide with the twenty-fifth anniversary of PowerPoint's first shipment, recounting stories of the perils narrowly evaded as a startup, dissecting the complexities of being the first distant development group in Microsoft, and explaining decisions and insights that enabled PowerPoint to become a lasting success well beyond its original business uses.