VisiCalc

From Academic Kids

VisiCalc was the first spreadsheet program available for personal computers. Indeed it was the "killer app" that turned the microcomputer from a hobby for computer enthusiasts into a business tool.

Conceived by Dan Bricklin, refined by Bob Frankston and distributed by Personal Software Inc. in 1979 (later VisiCorp) for the Apple II computer, it propelled the Apple from being a hobbyist's toy to being a much-desired, useful financial tool for business. This likely motivated IBM to enter the PC market which they had been ignoring until then. After the Apple II version, VisiCalc was also released for the Atari 8-bit family, the Commodore PET (both based on the MOS Technology 6502 processor, like the Apple), and the IBM PC.

According to Bricklin, he was watching his university professor at Harvard Business School create a financial model on a blackboard. When the professor found an error or wanted to change a parameter, he had to tediously erase and rewrite a number of sequential entries in the table, triggering Bricklin to realize that he could replicate the process on a computer using an 'electronic spreadsheet' to view results of underlying formulae.

Later, more powerful clones of VisiCalc were released including SuperCalc, Microsoft's MultiPlan, Borland's Quattro Pro, Lotus 1-2-3, Microsoft Excel, the spreadsheet module of AppleWorks, gnumeric and OpenOffice.org Calc.

Despite the electronic spreadsheet being such a revolutionary idea, Bricklin was advised that he would be unlikely to be granted a patent and so failed to profit significantly from his invention. It has been reported that at the time patent law generally did not apply to software, so the product could only be copyrighted—and in time the copyright would fail to protect the product through simple look-and-feel tests which were developed later on.

External links

da:VisiCalc de:VisiCalc pt:VisiCalc

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