One of the most elegant, most influential and most groaned-about pieces of software in the history of computers is 20 years old. There won’t be a lot of birthday celebrations for PowerPoint; the program is one the world loves to mock almost as much as it loves to use.
Perhaps the most scathing criticism comes from the Yale graphics guru Edward Tufte, who says the software “elevates format over content, betraying an attitude of commercialism that turns everything into a sales pitch.” He even suggested PowerPoint played a role in the Columbia shuttle disaster, as some vital technical news was buried in an otherwise upbeat slide…No quarrel from Mr. Gaskins: “All the things Tufte says are absolutely true. People often make very bad use of PowerPoint.”
– Lee Gomes discusses more on WSJ.com.
Here are some more links that talk about PowerPoint turning 20.
I did some digging in the PC World magazine library. Here is one of the first ads for PowerPoint that showed up in PC World’s November 1990 issue when the program first became available for Windows 3.0. The ad is a cool three-page foldout ad that includes a M.C. Escher print to hammer Microsoft’s point: “With Windows the future takes shape. With our Windows applications, it soars.”
– Tom Spring on the PC World site
Back in the late eighties we laughed at our science teachers when they burned themselves on an overhead projector or fumbled with their clear, handwritten sheets so they weren’t projecting their notes upside and backwards. What a relief when PowerPoint came to our rescue… well not exactly.
– Ken Fisher on the Influx Insights site
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