Image is a screenshot captured from the video below which was an Interview by David C. Brock, on 2015-03-31 in Mountain View, California, X7445.2015 © Computer History Museum

It is with great sadness that we share the news of Dennis Austin’s passing. The co-creator of PowerPoint, Dennis passed away peacefully at his home in Los Altos, California, on September 1st. According to The Washington Post, his son, Michael Austin, revealed that Dennis had been battling lung cancer, which had spread to his brain. At the age of 76, Dennis leaves behind an incredible legacy in the world of technology and innovation. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family during this difficult time.

Co-creator Robert Gaskins is credited with inventing the PowerPoint idea and then managing its development at a start-up for three years.

In his book Sweating Bullets: Notes about Inventing PowerPoint, Gaskins says that Mr. Austin “came up with at least half of the major design ideas” and added that if he hadn’t been designing the software, “no one would ever have heard of it.” A high compliment in today’s SaaS-heavy world.

Mr. Austin left a legacy that people can continue to build upon. The software remains a vital part of Microsoft’s suite of office tools to this day. The company recently began adding AI tooling to PowerPoint using Copilot. The AI can be prompted to create presentations or generate images and adjust the tone or format of text within a presentation.

It’s been almost a decade since, in a surprising turn of events, Microsoft disclosed its first-ever quarterly financial loss. This setback was caused by a significant acquisition that did not yield the expected results. Specifically, Microsoft had to write off an astounding $6 billion (£3.8 billion) that they had initially invested in the acquisition of Aquantive, an online advertising business (source). But it told an official story that breathes the same authentic vibe of Mr. Austin. It shows that everyone can have a chance to be big; even industry giants like Microsoft can find themselves encountering occasional challenges.

This company’s ability to adapt and evolve in response to market dynamics has been repeatedly demonstrated over time – making them well-positioned to continue building their success. The keep-it-growing frame of mind feels like something the brand inherited from the character of Austin – living as though, ultimately, setbacks will merely become stepping stones on the path toward progress.

Dennis Austin was the Principal Developer on the PowerPoint software team from 1985 through 1996. He wrote an article back in 2012 on the PPT impact he lived through, called Viewpoint: How PowerPoint Changed Microsoft and My Life.

“Thank you for contributing to the tool that was used to launch so many beautiful careers, ventures, and dreams.” – Bridgette Bryant


The Verge

The Washington Post