MVP Award 20 Year Anniversary
Friday, January 04, 2013
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.
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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?