History of Spreadsheet

918 WordsJan 15, 20134 Pages
A Brief History of Spreadsheets by D. J. Power Editor, DSSResources.COM Spreadsheets have been used by accountants for hundreds of years. Computerized or electronic spreadsheets are of much more recent origin. Information Systems oral history and some published newspaper and magazine stories celebrate Dan Bricklin as the "father" of the electronic spreadsheet. In 1978, Harvard Business School student, Daniel Bricklin, came up with the idea for an interactive visible calculator (see email from Frankston, 4/15/1999a). Bricklin and Bob Frankston then co-invented or co-created the software program VisiCalc. We can look back and recognize that VisiCalc was the first "killer" application for personal computers. What is a spreadsheet?…show more content…
Mattessich, Pardoe and Landau 's work and that of other developers of spreadsheets on mainframe computers probably had no influence on Bricklin and Frankston. Therefore, a history of the modern era of microcomputer-based electronic spreadsheets should begin with the "Tale of VisiCalc". The tale of VisiCalc is part myth and part fact for most of us. The story is that 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 clumsy 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. His metaphor was "an electronic blackboard and electronic chalk in a classroom." 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". For more details
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