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PowerPoint co-creator Dennis Austin dies at 76

PowerPoint co-creator Dennis Austin dies at 76

PowerPoint co-creator Dennis Austin died on September 1 at his home in Los Altos, California, The Washington Post reports. According to the Post, his son, Michael Austin, said he has lung cancer that has metastasized to his brain. He was 76 years old.

Austin studied engineering at several universities, including MIT and UC Santa Barbara, before working as a software developer, eventually joining the software company Forethought and co-developing PowerPoint. The company released the software in 1987 and was purchased by Microsoft a few months later. Austin served as the primary developer of PowerPoint from 1985 until his retirement in 1996.

The Washington Post says that PowerPoint's other co-creator Michael Gaskins writes in his book Sweating Bullets: Notes About Inventing PowerPoint that Austin "came up with at least half the major design ideas" and that if he had not been designing So this would be software, "Nobody's ever heard of it."

Despite its 36-year history as the most ubiquitous software for presentations, PowerPoint has its critics; Jeff Bezos once said that "We outlawed PowerPoint presentations at Amazon," calling the move "probably the smartest thing we ever did." In Walter Isaacson's Jobs biography, Steve Jobs was quoted as saying, "People who know what they're talking about don't need PowerPoint."

In August The Atlantic published a story about the "Great PowerPoint Panic of 2003", noting that 20 years ago, people thought it would "add to our brains, impair communication and waste our time." Will ruin it." Nevertheless, PowerPoint also has fans, including David Byrne, lead singer of The Talking Heads, although he liked it not for its intended purpose but for its potential as an artistic tool.

This software remains an important part of Microsoft's Office tool suite today. Recently, the company has started adding AI tooling to PowerPoint using Copilot, a kind of modern Clippy AI assistant for Microsoft 365. This can be prompted by creating a presentation or drawing pictures and adjusting the tone or format of the text within the presentation.

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