Tech pioneers celebrate National Spreadsheet Day

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Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston, the developers of VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet software program, commemorated "National Spreadsheet Day" on Tuesday.

The event was hosted by Centage, a provider of cloud-based budgeting and forecasting software, and streamed on Facebook Live.

Bricklin recalled how he came up with the idea for VisiCalc while attending Harvard Business School in the 1970s. He teamed up with his friend Bob Frankston and they developed a prototype of the program before releasing it in 1979, initially for the Apple II. Apple CEO Steve Jobs credited the program with providing a killer app for the early personal computer.

“In 1990, Steve Jobs said spreadsheets propelled the success of Apple ‘more than any other single event,’” said Bricklin. “He said that if VisiCalc had been written for some other computer, you’d be interviewing somebody else now. VisiCalc was instrumental in getting computers on people’s desks.”

The project gave Bricklin a chance to work with his friend Frankston to develop a computerized spreadsheet. “I always wanted to go into business with my friend Bob,” he said.

“I like to play with tools,” said Frankston. “The spreadsheet was a fun program, and I thought why not.”

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