Over the past 47 years, Microsoft has published some substantial software, but there was one release that was significantly heavier than the rest.

It wasn’t always the case, but today the majority of us use software on our PCs that is completely weightless since we download it. Software used to come with printed documentation and be shipped on floppy discs or CDs in physical form. There were many thousands of pages of documentation, which led to very large software releases.

What was the largest piece of software we have ever shipped? is a question that the official Windows developer documentation team at Microsoft decided to ask Microsoft Archivist Amy Stevenson. The response might shock you:

Tweet (Opens in a new window) The 1992-released Microsoft C/C compiler with the Windows SDK, which weighed more than 40 pounds, won the prize, as shown in the above video. It came with Microsoft C/C 7.0 in an more than two feet long (Opens in a new window) box and gave programmers the ability to create applications for MS-DOS, Windows, and OS/2. Stevenson notes that after that, “we never did that again,” and Visual C was the following product to be released.

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Microsoft now provides Visual Studio (Opens in a new window) in Community, Professional, and Enterprise editions for the development of contemporary software on a wide range of desktop and mobile platforms. Since all of the paperwork is available online, its “weight” can only be measured in terms of the energy expended to store and send it to our screens. How much paper would be used in printing? I have no idea.

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