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VisiCalc: The first killer app’s unveiling

VisiCalc was the first killer app. It became the reason people bought a personal computer.

You can read a paper presented in 1979 by one of its creators, Bob Frankston, in which he explains what it does and why it’s better than learning BASIC. Yes, VisiCalc’s competitor was a programming language. (Here’s Bob reading part I of his paper.)

Bob of course acknowledges Dan Bricklin as VisiCalc’s original designer. (Here’s Dan re-reading the original announcement.) Bob and Dan founded the company Software Arts, which developed VisiCalc. Since then, both have spent their time in commercial and public-spirited efforts trying to make the Internet a better place for us all.

visicalc screenshot
from wikipedia

3 Responses to “VisiCalc: The first killer app’s unveiling”

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  2. That screen warmed me up on that cold morning with first DST day and one hour already lost …

    I can’t forget another screen on my first computer – Apple II:
    UCSD p-code operating system menu.

    Absolutely ingenious, competitor of BASIC too, precursor of the philosophies of Java and Microsoft .NET on these old beautiful machines..

    Melt into tears by the memories of that beginnings….

  3. …so just about the time when early adopters were getting familiar with AppleSoft BASIC and learning how to translate real-life situations into code, along comes VisiCalc and the entire landscape changed from ‘Learning How To Program’ to ‘Learning how To Use Programming Products’.
    IMHO, a tremendous dis-service was done, and the fork in the road was taken.

Web Joho only

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