The Making of Visual Studio: Channel 9 Documentary

by Steven McLintock

If you’re like me, you’re currently in self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic - spending a lot more time indoors than usual.

Among us .NET developers, who else is finding the time to nerd out more than usual during these strange times? I’m now able to seek out the answers to all those random questions I’ve had over the years! Questions like “Was there A# or B# before there was C#?” or “Why does Scott Guthrie always wear a red polo shirt?”. Just me? OK, I’ll show myself the door.

Seriously though - a question I was able to find the answer to was “When was Visual Studio first released, what was it like and who built it?”.

Microsoft Visual Studio 97 Enterprise Edition
Microsoft Visual Studio 97 Enterprise Edition

Buried in the thousands of videos on Microsoft’s Channel 9 community website is the fascinating The Visual Studio Documentary. The mini-series (consisting of videos Part One and Part Two) features in-depth interviews with Scott Guthrie, Dan Fernandez, Jason Zander and many more.

Part One

All of the full length interviews filmed for the documentary are also available on the Channel 9 website if you want to dive in deeper. Furthermore, the documentary and all of it’s interviews are available as a podcast to watch on the go (whenever we are “on the go” again).

It’s definitely worth a watch and is only an hour in length. Beginning with the early days of MS-DOS, OS/2 and Windows, the documentary continues to explain the introduction of Visual Basic (originally Tripod by Alan Cooper) and how Microsoft saw the opportunity to merge its several development environments, such as Visual Basic, Visual C++ and FoxPro into one product.

Quote

"We named it Visual Studio because we thought of it as an artists pallet. You could look at your pallet and find all the tools there. You could reach in and build high performance applications that were highly productive right there in Visual Studio."

I thought it was amusing to find out that the first version of Visual Studio was simply each of the development environments already on the market - bundled, re-branded and shrink-wrapped as one (huge) new product. It must have been a nightmare to install!

Part Two

Don’t let me spoil it all. If you’re a Microsoft fan and/or a .NET developer, this is an unmissable insight into the software we use every day.

Steven McLintock

Kilt & Code is a blog written by Steven McLintock, a full-stack developer originally from Scotland. Steven uses Microsoft languages and platforms such as .NET, C# and Azure and has been working as a developer since 2006.