MVP Award 20 Year Anniversary

The MVP Award: Push Start

There have been lots of stories about when and how the MVP
Award began. Here’s what we know: The inspiration for the MVP Award was born in
a tropical paradise.

Twenty years ago—before Facebook or Twitter, widespread LAN
lines or cable—there were the CompuServe forums, where technology experts could
dial in, get answers to pressing questions and exchange ideas.

To more easily view the most active participants, Calvin
Hsia, a developer in Hawaii, created an application which tabulated the number
of forum participant responses to customer issues into a database. Microsoft
recognized the value of these contributions—to the customer experience and the
advancement of technology--and identified 34 community leaders from “Calvin’s
List.” They formed the original roster of Microsoft Most Valuable
Professionals.  “We were often referred to as ‘Microsoft’s Most Verbose
Professionals’,” Calvin joked.

Among that inaugural group was Access MVP John Viescas, who
now is celebrating his 20-year anniversary. Congratulations, John! You can see
more about his story on the MVP Award web site.

In those early years, MVPs were invited to attend Microsoft
Tech-Ed as part of their award. “There were about a dozen of us there in March
of 1993,” recalled Calvin. “Most of us meeting in person for the first time
after all those interactions on CompuServe. We loved it.”

From those original 34 MVPs, the ranks of awardees have
grown to around 3,800 a year: experts in 90 Microsoft technologies, serving as
community leaders in around 90 countries and helping people in more than 40
languages. Altogether, MVPs now reach around one million Microsoft customers
every day.

And now, instead of being invited to meet at Tech-Ed, MVPs
are invited to the MVP Global Summit, the largest customer event on Microsoft’s
campus and the biggest community event in the world. These days at Tech-Ed
events around the globe, MVPs are recognized as experts in the community and
often serve as popular speakers.

MVPs not only enhance people’s experience with Microsoft
products, they help improve the products themselves. At the MVP Global Summit
and in ongoing conversations throughout their award year, they deliver
valuable, real-world feedback to a wide range of Microsoft product teams.

A year after being named an MVP, Calvin joined Microsoft,
moved to Redmond, and now is a developer on the Visual Studio team. He still
has his welcome letter from Patti Stonesifer, who later went on to 
launch and then serve as CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And he still has his
see-through mouse.

What are your earliest memories of the MVP Award?