Microsoft Windows 95 Tech Innovator Eric Engstrom Dies at 55

His work on DirectX paved the way for the Xbox we know today.
Fabienne Lang
Windows 95m01229/Flickr

Brilliant, yet quietly unknown, tech innovator Eric Engstrom died earlier this month aged 55 after complications following an injury. 

Engstrom was one of the renegades of Microsoft, known as one of the trio who helped create the path for the company's move into the gaming world thanks to DirectX. The most notable expansion into gaming for Microsoft was the Xbox, which was enabled thanks to DirectX, thus in part thanks to Engstrom.


Working alongside Alex St. John and Craig Eisler, Engstrom played a key role in developing DirectX. 

Engstrom specifically helped make gaming practical in Microsoft Windows 95's operating system. The three pioneers were not all-around beloved at Microsoft, but their work certainly paved the way for gaming. 

On top of this, Engstrom helped St. John advocate for DirectX's platform, which Microsoft didn't formally support. The trio of Engstrom, St. John, and Eisler, also known as the Beastie Boys, had to fight to keep working at Microsoft. 

Regardless of how much they were liked or not, in large part thanks to the Beastie Boys, DirectX made Windows the top platform for PC-gaming. Moreover, it offered Microsoft the foundations for the well-known Xbox, as well as the Windows CE variant that was used to power Sega's Dreamcast

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Engstrom didn't stop there. His Wildseed startup pioneered the early days of the mobile phone industry, contributing to Windows Mobile and advertisements for Microsoft's online services. 

Engstrom's mark on the gaming industry is a big one, and one he'll be remembered for a while. 

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