NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Steve Ballmer was employee number thirty at Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) , hired as the company's first business manager who would later become CEO for more than a decade. This week he also gave up his seat on Microsoft's board of directors, fully embracing his roll as full-time owner of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers among other roles.
His legacy at Microsoft will be debated for decades to come and his business decisions will be studied by future generations of business students.
Ballmer was the ultimate Microsoft pitchman, known for his outrageous statements and salesmanship. For instance, a very young Ballmer doing his best Crazy Eddie impersonation, as he tried to sell an early version of Windows:
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He will also be remembered for what happened at the company during his reign as CEO, both the good and bad. On the plus side, there there was the introduction of Xbox, as it took on Sony's (SNE) successful PlayStation brand, Nintendo (NTDOY) 64 and others.
Microsoft's answer to Apple's iPod was also laughable, the short-lived Microsoft Zune. Other memorable mistakes include Windows Vista, Windows 8 and Windows RT. Ballmer's time will best be remembered for not being able to predict the future of computing. The company underestimated big trends, including smartphones and tablets, and underestimating the competition - Apple and especially the rapid rise of Google (GOOG) . Satya Nadella has his work cut out for him. He's announced a big round of layoffs as his first step to take Microsoft in a new direction. Steve Ballmer may best be remembered for leaving the board to give the new CEO a clean slate to lead Microsoft into the future. Read More: 8 Stocks George Soros Is Buying in 2014
-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York. To submit a news tip, send an email to email@example.com.