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?


Comments (31)

  1. Jonathan Wood says:

    And I've been an MVP since 1994, that's about 19 years.

  2. says:

    And what would be cool would be if someone could post that list of the original 34 MVPs! I bet I know a lot of them …

  3. says:

    I recall the day (October 1st 2003) when I received an email saying I was a Microsoft MVP. I thought it was a spam email, and I contacted the person who nominated me (Jim Eshelman) to see if it was a hoax. he assured me it wasn't and i have been an MVP since. I do miss the MVP Bucks though.

  4. Frank Xu Lei says:


    20 years is a long time.

    it is an honor for me to have the opportunity of being MVP.

  5. I am not a MVP yet. But, celebrating 20th year of MVP program is a great event.

    Congratulations MSFT!!!

  6. Alun Jones says:

    I can't wait to see what this year's MVP Summit brings. Hope I get awarded again in April!

  7. Anand Khanse says:

    Its been a pleasure and a privilege being a Microsoft MVP since 2007.

  8. John Viescas says:

    Too bad I can't post a file here – I have my original MVP letter in a PDF file.  Here's the list (apologies to anyone whose name I misspell!):

    Microsft BASIC:

    Daniel A. Barclay, J.D. Evans, Gregg Irwin, Costas Kitsos, Jim Mack, Mark Novisoff, Ian Taylor, Jonathan Zuck.

    Microsoft Access:

    Jim Ferguson, Ken Getz, Len Popp, John Viescas

    Microsoft FoxPro:

    Jim Booth, Pat Adams, Tamar E. Granor, Yair Alan Griver, Calvin Hsia, Nancy Jacobsen, Joel A. Neely, Tom Rettig, Lisa C. Slater

    Microsoft Languages:

    Dave Braunschweig, Steve Dirickson, Doris Malott, Thomas Woelfer

    Microsoft WIndows NT: Arthur Knowles

    Microsoft Win32 Application Program Interfaces (APIs):

    Douglas Hamilton, David A. Solomon

    Microsoft WIndows Software Development Kit:

    Brian Myers, Michael Geary, Karen Hazzah, Brent Rector, Jeffrey Richter, Paul Yao

  9. Michael Greth says:

    I'm MVP since 1998 and I'm very happy to be part of this great community of excellent people all over the world. Thanks to Microsoft for supporting this kind of community.

  10. Olivier Dahan says:

    Happy Birthday MVPs 🙂

    One regret : the summit should have a kind of "replay" in Europe… North of USA is a bit far for most of us who are working hard (that's why we're MVPs !) …

  11. Marcel Meijer says:

    Proud to be part of this program! Congrats to Microsoft for this Anniversary.

  12. Congrats to all MVPs, speically those of you that have been in this for so long that you soon grow stuck in the MVP walls! =)

    Hey Microsoft, what about giving us a "Hall of Fame" of some kind when we get up to Redmond for the MVP Summit? That would be awesome! (skip all those who's no longer have the MVP. Start the first wall with 1993, then 94, 95 etc and so on, maybe photos and or at least names – techonology =) would be awesome!

  13. Wow, 20 years… Congratz to you all!

  14. Anand says:

    I joined in 2002 and continued till 2011. I applied for the MVP when I was browsing through the web and notifed a small button on the MSDN India page. I got a call from Microsoft India and they asked few questions. After few days I got an email that I have been awarded MVP.

    Those days I got big box of CD's and then DVD, then Online. I also got MVP bucks till it was discontinued. I attended various events locally and interacted with people all over the world.

  15. Eric Chen says:


  16. Tamar E. Granor says:

    I, too, remember the day the letter showed up and how excited I was. Thanks, John, for posting the list. I also just want to point out that Calvin's List actually originated in the FoxPro forums. Microsoft ran with that and chose MVPs in other developer tools.

  17. says:

    Thanks for posting that list, John! I know just about all those FoxPro MVPs … we go way back!  ;0)

  18. Adam Machanic says:

    So is John V. the only 20 year MVP? Shouldn't Tamar and others be featured in this article too?

  19. Jorge Rodrigues says:

    Congratulations to Microsoft. I'm very proud to be part this program since 2005!!!! Congratulations also to Cristina Herrero, my MVP Lead!!! 🙂

  20. Craig Berntson says:

    It's exciting to be part of the program and looking forward to the Summit and see what's happening as part of the anniversary celebration. I was first awarded in 1996 and still hanging in there.

  21. says:

    I remember meeting a few of the early MVP's at Microsoft Events in Seattle however those were not summits. And later more at TechEd. When did the Global Summits start?

    Congrats to all the multi decade MVP's!

  22. says:

    Congrats to all MVPs!!!

  23. That's great to know the anniversary.

  24. rogerj says:

    I still use my CompuServe email account, with an alphabetic rather than the original the numeric ####,#### prefix, from the days of Microsoft Access 1.0. I envied John Viescas' MVP status at the time, but 18 years later I recieved an MVP for Windows Azure.

    Congrats to all the early MVPs.

  25. Dick Grier says:

    Like Jonathan, I've been a MVP since 1994.  And, if you look at my photo in the MSDN forums, you can see the wrinkles.  The MVP program has had a few wrinkles over the years, too.

  26. says:

    Congratulations, John (Viescas) and all first MVP !

    I hope that my status will be renewed in April 😉 and continue to be part of a great community.

  27. Great to know about the history..! Congrats..for those who spent their life time for Microsoft Technologies ! 20 years is huge.. To be consistent.. .!!.

  28. Guillermo Som (elGuille) says:

    Some of us need a rest… 😉 16 years… since october 1997

  29. pituach says:

    Congratulations John, 20 years… really impressive
    and congrats all MVPs 🙂

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