Personal Software releases VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet

17th October 1979
Personal Software releases VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet

Dan Bricklin came up with the idea of a computerised spreadsheet program while preparing a report for his Harvard Business School course. He wanted to create a program where people could visualize a spreadsheet as they created it.

Dan Bricklin writes about the initial idea on his website:

The idea for the electronic spreadsheet came to me while I was a student at the Harvard Business School, working on my MBA degree, in the spring of 1978. Sitting in Aldrich Hall, room 108, I would daydream ... "imagine if I had a heads-up display, like in a fighter plane, where I could see the virtual image hanging in the air in front of me. I could just move my mouse/keyboard calculator around on the table, punch in a few numbers, circle them to get a sum, do some calculations."

During 1978, Bricklin together with colleagues Bob Frankston and Daniel Fylstra created the software to realise his vision. They called their program VisiCalc, short for "visible calculator". VisiCalc was the first computerized spreadsheet program.

On 11th May 1979 Bricklin and Frankston give the first public demonstration of VisiCalc at the 4th West Coast Computer Faire, held in San Francisco.

On 17th October 1979 VisiCalc was released for the Apple II by Fylstra's company, Personal Software. Their product was so successful that the company was later renamed VisiCorp. Around 1 million copies of the program were sold during VisiCalc's lifetime.

Related information:


  • First version of VisiCalc screenshot
    Credit: Copyright Daniel Bricklin. Images remain the copyright of the original copyright holder. Used under fair use policy for educational purposes only.

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Personal Software releases VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet

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