Michael J. Halvorson

Benson Family Chair in Business and Economic History

Michael Halvorson
Xavier Hall - Room 144
Teaching Away
15 Years
  • Professional
  • Biography

Additional Titles/Roles

  • Professor of History
  • Innovation Studies Director


  • Ph.D., History, University of Washington, 2001
  • M.A., History, University of Washington, 1996
  • B.A., Computer Science, Pacific Lutheran University, 1985

Areas of Emphasis or Expertise

  • Business and Economic History
  • Innovation Studies
  • History of Computing (Personal Computers)
  • Software Development / Windows Programming
  • Early Modern Europe / Reformation Germany / Lutheranism
  • Tudor England (study abroad)


  • The Renaissance: All That Matters, (McGraw-Hill, 2015) : View Book
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 2013 Step by Step, (Microsoft Press, 2013) : View Book
  • Heinrich Heshusius and Confessional Polemic in Early Lutheran Orthodoxy, (Ashgate, 2010) : View Book
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 2010 Step by Step, (Microsoft Press, 2010) : View Book
  • Defining Community in Early Modern Europe, (Ashgate, 2008) : View Book
  • A Lutheran Vocation: Philip A. Nordquist and the Study of History at Pacific Lutheran University co-edited with Robert P. Ericksen, (PLU Press, 2005) : View Book
  • Lo-ha-ra-no (The Water Spring): Missionary Tales from Madagascar edited by Michael James Halvorson, (Warren & Howe Press, 2003) : View Book
  • Running Microsoft Office 2000 Professional, with Michael J. Young, (Microsoft Press, 2001) : View Book


Michael Halvorson teaches business and economic history courses in the Department of History at PLU, as well as classes on innovation and the history of technology. His current research project is a title under contract with ACM Books (Morgan & Claypool) entitled Code Nation: Personal Computing and the Learn to Program Movement in America, 1970-1995. The project explores programming culture in America and debates about software development practices, computer literacy, teaching computer science, and the era’s lively cast of self-taught coders, power users, hackers, and entrepreneurs.

Professor Halvorson graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in 1985 and was employed for nine years at Microsoft Corporation, where he worked as an editor, writer, and localization manager for Microsoft Visual Basic. Since 1989, he has written 35 books about computer software, history, and technology. His most recent book about Windows programming and smart phone development is Microsoft Visual Basic 2013 Step by Step (Microsoft Press).

Halvorson’s historical books include a recent title on Renaissance Europe entitled The Renaissance: All That Matters. The book was published by Hodder and Stoughton in the UK in 2014. An edition for North American audiences was published in 2015 in the McGraw-Hill series “Teach Yourself: History & Politics”.

His monograph on Reformation history Heinrich Heshusius and Confessional Polemic in Early Lutheran Orthodoxy was published in 2010 (Ashgate Publishing). Halvorson is also the editor of three essay collections: Defining Community in Early Modern Europe, with Karen E. Spierling (Ashgate, 2008); A Lutheran Vocation: Philip A. Nordquist and the Study of History at Pacific Lutheran University, with Robert P. Ericksen (PLU Press, 2005); and Lo-Ha-Ra-No (The Water Spring): Missionary Tales from Madagascar (Warren & Howe, 2003).

Halvorson has published articles and book reviews in Sixteenth Century Journal, Archive for Reformation History, and Lutheran Quarterly. The most recent is “German Lutheran Centennial Dramas,” an essay about Lutheran memory and commemoration on the eve of the Thirty Years’ War in Europe, published by Lutheran Quarterly in Autumn 2016.

As a history professor with interests in business, teaching, and innovation, Halvorson’s professional experiences are diverse; they reveal a love for mentoring, writing, and publishing, and an abiding fascination with innovation and the dynamics of change in Western societies that come as a result of technology and socially transformative ideas. His work is situated at the intersection between business, the sciences, and the humanities.