17. March 2019

1978: Spreadsheets = Sorcery

The “father of the spreadsheet” — Dan Bricklin — recently presented remotely for a group of college students at Carnegie Mellon.

The video is just over an hour long and includes a lot of interesting information for fellow data and spreadsheet enthusiasts. In case you don’t have the time to watch the whole thing, at least check out the core of the VisiCalc demo between 12:45 and 23:30 or so:

Two things stand out for me:

  1. Imagine what kind of sorcery this was in a day and age where all calculations were done using paper, pencil and an electronic calculator!

  2. It’s amazing how many of Bricklin’s early, and sometimes somewhat arbitrary, decisions on syntax, format and interaction still survive in today’s spreadsheets.

This article has also been published on Medium.

Written by Hjalmar Gislason

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