An early advertisement for VisiCalc. Take a gander at the size of that floppy!
Everyone say “Happy Birthday” and “Thanks!” to Dan Bricklin, born today in 1951. The computer software pioneer co-created the granddaddy of that Excel window you’re pretending to work on right now.
Bricklin and Bob Franklin wrote and coded VisiCalc, the first-ever spreadsheet program for the home computer market. Before the 1979 release, personal computers weren’t seen as necessary for business use, but the spreadsheet, released first for the Apple II and later on for the Commodore Pet, Atari and other systems, struck a chord with offices everywhere especially when they realized they could use the spreadsheet to speed up record-keeping and deduct the considerable expense of the computer in the process. This, of course, was before everyone realized they needed a computer to watch cat videos.
Celebrate today by visiting Bricklin’s site, which has tons of history and info on VisiCalc and the computing industry in general. It’s a fascinating read, so take your time and keep that Excel spreadsheet handy to cover up the screen when the boss walks in.
Photo credit: Flickr/ScriptingNews
Today in 1977, the Apple II was released, joining the ranks of the TRS-80 and the Commodore PET in home computing power. Best known as the adorable lovechild of Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, the Apple II came in two forms: fully functional, with all the bells and whistles of a color monitor, power supply, keyboard and case, or just the brain in circuitboard form so you could have all the fun of building it yourself. The computer operated on BASIC programming, so you could go totally off the reservation and even build your own applications.
The Apple II became hugely popular, especially since it had a spreadsheet program people could use instead of lugging around ledgers. Within ten years, the computer would evolve into the Apple IIe and end up in schools across the country because of some brilliant and crafty marketing. Whether you were one of those geeks building it in your own garage or a later generation learning the joys of dot-matrix graphics and programming, Apple II still has a place in your solder-covered heart.
Photo credit: Flickr/Florian Eckerstorfer