I just noticed that last week was the 20th anniversary of my first Microsoft certification. I had to travel nearly 500 miles (from Fortaleza to Recife) to reach the closest official testing center available in Brazil in August 1995.
You’re probably thinking that I started by taking the Windows 95 exam, but it was actually the Windows 3.1 exam (which included a lot of MS-DOS 6.x stuff). The Windows 95 exam was my next one, but that only happened over a year later in December 1996.
I went on to take absolutely all of the Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 exams (many of them in their beta version). At that point we had multiple Microsoft Certified Partners in Fortaleza and I worked for one of them.
I continued to take lots of exams even after moved to the US in October 2000 and after I joined Microsoft in October 2002. I only slowed down a bit after joining the Windows Server engineering team in October 2007.
In 2009 I achieved my last certification as a Microsoft Certified Master on SQL Server 2008. That took a few weeks of training, a series of written exams and a final, multi-hour lab exam. Exciting stuff! That also later granted me a charter certification as Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (Data Platform), Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (Data Platform) and Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (SQL Server 2012).
My full list is shown below. In case you’re wondering, the Windows 10 exam (Configuring Windows Devices) is already in development and you can find the details at https://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/exam-70-697.aspx.