VisiCalc Spreadsheet is born

1978
VisiCalc Spreadsheet is born

Dan Bricklin was preparing a spread sheet analysis for a Harvard Business School "case study" report and had two alternatives:
1) do it by hand or
2) use a time-sharing mainframe program.

Bricklin thought there must be a better way. He wanted a program where people could visualize the spreadsheet as they created it. By the fall of 1978, Bricklin had programmed the first working prototype of his concept in integer basic. The program helped users input and manipulate a matrix of five columns and 20 rows.
The first version was not very "powerful" so Bricklin recruited an MIT acquaintance Bob Frankston to improve and expand the program. Bricklin calls Frankston the "co-creator" of the electronic spreadsheet. Frankston created the production code with faster speed, better arithmetic, and scrolling. He also expanded the program and "packed the code into a mere 20k of machine memory, making it both powerful and practical enough to be run on a microcomputer".

During the fall of 1978, Daniel Fylstra, founding Associate Editor of Byte Magazine, joined Bricklin and Frankston in developing VisiCalc. Fylstra was "marketing-oriented" and suggested that the product would be viable if it could run on an Apple micro-computer. Bricklin and Frankston formed Software Arts Corporation on January 2, 1979. In May 1979, Fylstra and his firm Personal Software (later renamed VisiCorp) began marketing "VisiCalc" with a teaser ad in Byte Magazine. The name "VisiCalc" is a compressed form of the phrase "visible calculator" VisiCalc became an almost instant success and provided many business people with an incentive to purchase a personal computer or an H-P 85 or 87 calculator from Hewlett-Packard. About 1 million copies of the spreadsheet program were sold during VisiCalc's product lifetime. Dan Bricklin has his version of the history of Software Arts and VisiCalc on the web at www.bricklin.com/history/sai.htm. Bricklin includes early ads and reviews and pictures of the VisiCalc packaging and screenshots.


 

 

 

 

VisiCalc Spreadsheet is born

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