Ray Ozzie grew up in Chicago, Illinois, later moving to Park Ridge, Illinois and graduating from Maine South High School in 1973 where he learned to program on a GE-400 mainframe and did technical work on school theater productions.
He received his bachelor’s degree in computer science in 1979 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he worked on the PLATO system, and began his working career at Data General Corporation where he worked for Jonathan Sachs. After leaving Data General, Ozzie worked at Software Arts for Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston, the creators of VisiCalc, on that product and TK Solver. Shortly thereafter, he was recruited by Sachs and Mitch Kapor to work for Lotus Development to develop what became Lotus Symphony. Ozzie left Lotus Development in 1984 and founded Iris Associates to create the product later sold by Lotus as Lotus Notes, based in part on his experiences using the PLATO Notes group messaging system. Iris Associates was acquired by Lotus in 1994, and Lotus itself was acquired by IBM in 1995.
Ozzie worked there for several years before leaving to form Groove Networks. Groove was acquired by Microsoft in 2005, where Ozzie became one of three Chief Technical Officers. That year, he wrote a seven-page, 5,000-word internal memo, titled The Internet Services Disruption: “It’s clear that if we fail to do so, our business as we know it is at risk … We must respond quickly and decisively.”
On June 15, 2006, Ozzie took over the role of Chief Software Architect from Bill Gates.
In October 2009 he founded “FUSE Labs” (Future Social Experiences) within Microsoft to focus on innovation around future social web experience.
Ozzie officially announced his plans to step down from his role at Microsoft on October 18, 2010 and his final day was December 31, 2010.
In January 2012 Ozzie started a new company called Cocomo. The company name was later changed to Talko. The Talko service and smartphone app, a voice-based communication tool for groups, was launched in September 2014. Ozzie has said that the name “Talko” is meant as an homage to Talkomatic, a popular group chat program he experienced while working on the PLATO System in the 1970s.