Historic Microsoft Headquarters Plaque - Atlas Obscura

Historic Microsoft Headquarters Plaque

One of the world’s most powerful corporations was established on a random Albuquerque street corner. 


On the corner of Linn Avenue and California Street in sunny Albuquerque, New Mexico, lies a rather run-down brick strip mall. Not much seems to happen here, as most of the storefronts are currently vacant. One of these empty offices, however, features a monument that indicates a much more dynamic history. A simple plaque, laid on a slab of sandstone, tells that this is the founding site of Microsoft, one of the world’s most successful companies.

Paul Allen first visited Albuquerque to meet with Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems, who had developed the Altair 8800, the first microcomputer. Allen and Bill Gates had developed a version of BASIC, a programming language, tailored to MITS’s new machine. The name “Micro-Soft” was created by Allen as a portmanteau of “microcomputer” and “software.” (Later on, the hyphen was removed from the company name.) After their success with Altair BASIC, Bill Gates and Paul Allen officially incorporated Microsoft on April 4, 1975.

Gates and Allen found it difficult to find high-level programmers willing to move to Albuquerque. So, on January 1, 1979, they moved their headquarters to Bellevue, Washington. The original office in New Mexico was largely ignored until 2006, when Microsoft came back to place a lovely plaque commemorating the founding of the company. Today there is no Microsoft here other than what might exist on the computers that operate out of this strip mall and the plaque.

These days, the neighborhood is primarily known by its derisive nickname, the Warzone, due to having the highest level of crime in the city. The plaque itself has been no exception to this trend, having been stolen in 2012, and again in 2013. Thankfully, it has always been restored shortly after, providing computer history fans a place to reflect on the humble origins of their favorite multinational information technology corporation.

Know Before You Go

The marker is on the southwest corner of Linn Ave. NE and California St. NE.

Despite the neighborhood’s nickname, this part of Albuquerque is generally safe to visit.

In partnership with KAYAK

Plan Your Trip

From Around the Web