The invention of the micro computer brought about an increase in interest and demand for personal computers. It gave the many enthusiasts the opportunity to get up close with a machine they had only dreamt of seeing. Through the decades various ground breaking inventions, application-wise, have resulted from the use of these personal computers. A major one was the spreadsheet application, the very first, Visicalc which was developed in the year 1979. Today, the most popular spreadsheet can be said to be Microsoft Excel which was developed in the 1980’s. The purpose of this term-paper is to introduce at other spreadsheets other than Microsoft Excel.
This is the first electronic spreadsheet to be made available on personal computers. The idea originated from Dan Bricklin, a business administration student at Harvard University. He desired a better way in dealing with financial processes instead of using the traditional manual spreadsheets (paper and board). He met with a fellow student, Bob Frankston, a computer science student, and their work together resulted in the development of the visible calculator. *Bricklin and Frankston.
In 1979, the software was developed by their company Software Arts, and distributed by VisiCorp (which was named Personal Software at the time). It was first demonstrated in June, 1979 at the National Computer Conference, and the Apple II version was shipped in October the same year and was sold for $100. It was a huge success, as there was increasingly a high demand for the program. Initially, microcomputers/personal computers were just hobby-tools for computer enthusiasts. But the innovation of the visible calculator not only attracted interests in the program, but also in personal computers as people acquired the computer systems mainly for the purpose of using VisiCalc. The Model I VisiCalc was described as a ‘Business Management Software’ as it substituted the calculator, pencil, and paper/board in dealing with financial calculations. In it, you are allowed to set up a particular program, and when new data is entered, it recalculates and displays updated versions throughout the program. It entailed formatting commands for setting up commands and tables, as well as editing features that allows the inserting and deleting of titles, formulas and numbers.
*Screenshots of VisiCalc.
Enhanced VisiCalc included an entry editor which sped up the preparation of worksheets by enabling the modification of formulas and labels without re-entering them. Other enhancements included logical and comparison operators for testing and branching, as well as optical printer for printing any portion of the worksheet.
*VisiCalc was produced in disks and not in tapes.
At the time, patent law didn’t cover software, so the product could only be copyrighted. VisiCalc wasn’t prepackaged, as users were required to design layouts and formulas in the program. However, VisiCalc was more powerful and flexible than pre-packaged programs. With time, modified electronic spreadsheets were developed to compete with VisiCalc. In 1983, Lotus introduced a spreadsheet program which was developed by Mitch Kapor, who happened to be the former head development at Visicorp. That same year, Lotus 1-2-3 started outselling VisiCalc. And in 1985, Lotus bought over Software Arts, hence, decided to stop producing VisiCalc in favour of Lotus 1-2-3. By the time, VisiCalc had sold 800,000 copies.
*Screenshot of Lotus 1-2-3.
Lotus 1-2-3 enabled an easier use of spreadsheets and it added integrated charting, plotting and database capabilities. It established spreadsheet software as a major data presentation package as well as a complex calculation tool. Lotus was also the first spreadsheet vendor to introduce naming cells, cell ranges and spreadsheet macros. Kapor was the VisiCalc product manager at Personal Software for about six months in 1980 and he also designed and programmed...