Talk:VisiCalc

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"... and in time ..."?[edit]

What does "and in time the copyright" mean? Is this a particular use of US English with which I am unfamiliar, or an error? --Anonymous

It does seem OK to use this phrase in US English, yes. AFAIK, it means roughly the same as "... with the passage of time ...", or, "... eventually ...". --Wernher 20:49, 6 August 2005 (UTC)

Ray Ozzie's role?[edit]

"Ozzie was instrumental in the development of Lotus Symphony and Software Arts Inc.’s TK!Solver and VisiCalc..." -from his bio at Microsoft. Instrumental how? --Snori 00:30, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

Factual accuracy[edit]

The factual accuracy of part of the article is disputed. The article states:

"Though the electronic spreadsheet was a revolutionary idea, Bricklin was advised that he would be unlikely to be granted a patent, so he failed to profit significantly from his invention. At the time [presumably in 1979], patent law had not been successfully applied to software."

The content of the article software patent (see section: Early example of a software patent) contradicts this last sentence, pointing to software patents granted back in the early sixties.. --Edcolins 22:13, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

The statement in the article is correct for the US. As the software patents article says:
The USPTO maintained this position, that software was in effect a mathematical algorithm, and therefore not patentable into the 1980's. [In 1981], the court essentially ruled that while algorithms themselves could not be patented, devices that utilized them could.... by the early 1990s the patentability of software was well established...
I will add the phrase "in the US" to the article and remove the dispute tag. --Macrakis 22:49, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
Thank you, this sounds fair. --Edcolins 16:53, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

Lotus?[edit]

Lotus aquired VisiCalc, and stopped development. I think this fact needs documenting.

Problems with the TI story and other issues[edit]

This article has enormous problems. There is basically nothing here about VisiCalc. Luckily, the main external reference is to my page with links to more information, including a running copy, detailed documentation, and some history. You would have expected some information about the product here, too.

The bulk of it is a claim by an individual about the origins of the program which are false, taking personal claim. The references are to documents on his own web site. Those documents show a product quite different than VisiCalc (it appears more like a standard table generation system like those well-known at the time on bigger computers -- see http://www.dvandusen.com/visicalc_story/DesignDoc_11_23_77/page_01.htm). In the 25+ years since VisiCalc came out, this TI story has not appeared in the literature from what I've seen and the main reference to it is in the Wikipedia material this one person wrote. This does not sound like something verified.

There is an unsupported and unverified claim that Fylstra "enlisted" Bob and me to "assist on the project" and that VisiCalc was a refinement of the design made by that individual. Personally, I know this is false. The VisiCalc idea and general design predated my meeting Mr. Fylstra. I approached him about pursuing the idea, not the other way around. That story is well told, and has not been disputed by people involved in the development. Mr. Jennings has his recollections on his web site, http://www.benlo.com/, and confirms that I brought the idea to them. This other individual is not mentioned.

The article states that "Dennis coached as a reviewer of the product as it was developed, and introduced VisiCalc into the financial market through KPMG and the World Bank" which is unsupported (the footnoted reference does not mention a Dennis). It implies that the introduction to the financial world was through this person and those two business entities. There is verifiable evidence that Ben Rosen of Morgan Stanley introduced the product to the financial world (see a copy at http://www.bricklin.com/history/rosenletter.htm). Mr. Fylstra introduced the product to Mr. Rosen.

VisiCalc has very little on the Spreadsheet page here on Wikipedia. Some people felt that that would be OK, since there should be a lot about the product on its own page. I don't see that here. The product is well documented (such as the reference card on my web site, linked to on this page) so it should be easy to find verifiable information about its capabilities. Since it is generally regarded as the first of its genre (or at least the start of a long line of related products) you would expect details of its capabilities.

Just saying that it was "flawed and clunky" does not help people trying to understand why it was important. That is a poor reference. The quote there is "But VisiCalc itself, despite representing a breakthrough concept, wasn't great software. It was flawed and clunky, and couldn't do many things users wanted it to do. The great implementation of the spreadsheet was not VisiCalc or even Lotus 1-2-3 but Microsoft Excel..." This is saying something like "VisiCalc, while a breakthrough, wasn't as good as a product taking up 1,000 times more memory and needing a computer 1,000 more powerful, and Lotus 1-2-3 wasn't so great, even though it sold millions and millions of copies to big businesses and got them to buy PC's for the first time." For a 32K program, VisiCalc was pretty great, and it had a great affect on the world. Lotus 1-2-3 was also great in many respects, and no follow-on product touched it on similar machines. How would you define "great software"? Saying "argues that in perspective it had problems" implies that it should have been better, but I think that better wording would be that "It was an early product that ran on early computers, and was later overtaken by products that took advantage of more memory and disks" or something similar. The actual reasons are more complex, but for this article it could suffice.

That should be enough to start. Someone, please re-work this article. I'm a little too close to this to make me a good Wikipedian to do it.

DanBricklin 04:29, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

Dan, thanks for joining us. The history section has only recently been written by Dvandusen (talk · contribs), depending on one source that is more than probably self-published. We can just rollback to the earlier version, but is there any useful content here? Can we write an article about the TI Table Processor ? Any idea whether that made it to market ? John Vandenberg 05:49, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
John, All I can see from the material provided by this person (on the that web site he points to) are some rough specifications, and his write-up here says the product idea was rejected by TI. I see no claim anywhere that the Table Processor ever went any further than an early functional specification except in his incorrect and unsupported assertion that it was refined into VisiCalc. (Desktop Plan maybe -- another Personal Software product, but not VisiCalc.) It does not seem to deserve any coverage in Wikipedia from what I can see in the literature and in my personal knowledge. Thanks for following up. DanBricklin 10:52, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
I've rolled back. If you want to collate some material on Desktop Plan I'll be happy to write the article. John Vandenberg 13:06, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
Thanks! I don't have much information on the product, and there are too many in that class which were more important to history that should be covered first. Perhaps the name could be added to the List of Apple II application software page. DanBricklin 15:08, 10 June 2007 (UTC)
Sounds like a good idea. I'm sure nobody will object if you add an entry there with a short summary. John Vandenberg 06:33, 13 June 2007 (UTC)
I must add that the material supplied for the TI Personal Problem Solving page is authentic, including the business plan that Fylstra (Dan and Betsie), Jennings, and myself took to Joe Gal. While I do not know what actually transpired between Fylstra and Bricklin during late 1978, I was asked on several occasions by Fylstra whether their results (which I was receiving copies of) were similar in design to the concept I had discussed with Fylstra and that Fylstra included in the Business Plan as we submitted it to Joe Gal and Associates. It is a sham to believe that we at TI did not produce what we did, or that the involvement we had with Fylstra did not exist. It is sad to see that Fylstra and crowd still wish to reject others' contributions in this technology, regardless of whether the page is linked to one of theirs or not. The material speaks for itself. It should be available as history, and absolutely should be refined until perfectly accurate factually. Dvandusen (talk) 00:42, 1 March 2009 (UTC)

Platforms[edit]

The article says: "After the Apple II version, VisiCalc was also released for the Atari 8-bit family, the Commodore PET (both based on the MOS Technology 6502 processor, like the Apple), TRS-80 (based on the Zilog Z80 processor) and the IBM PC[2]."

where "2" is a link to http://lowendmac.com/orchard/06/0922.html -- but I see nothing in this article about Atari, Commodore, TRS-80, or Visicalc for MS-DOS.

The only reference to ports of Visicalc I see are the last 2 sentences of that page: "Eventually, VisiCorp sued Software Arts when the company delayed development of VisiCalc for the IBM PC so they could first finish a version for the Apple IIe and III. Eventually, Software Arts' assets were sold to Lotus, which unsurprisingly stopped development of VisiCalc."

It's not clear from this that there ever was a port of Visicalc to any other platform -- except maybe the Apple III? Maybe there was, but this reference doesn't say so. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 66.235.7.36 (talk) 07:13, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

am not too sure[edit]

Spreadsheets on computers existed way before from some old German software. I think it was the marketing aspect via DOS that got things going —Preceding unsigned comment added by 192.18.192.21 (talk) 06:01, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

Source[edit]

"VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet program, was one of -- if not the -- single-most important pieces of software in PC history. As Paul Laughton, who wrote Apple's DOS, put it, VisiCalc was "the thing that [made] microcomputers take off."

""If you knew VisiCalc, and what it did, and you were a skilled salesperson, and the right person came in the door," said Dan Bricklin, the co-creator of VisiCalc (along with Bob Frankston). "You could probably sell them a fully-loaded machine." "

Addressing Mode[edit]

As I write this comment, the article says that ViciCalc used R1C1 addressing; however, this neither matches my recollection nor does it match what Dan Bricklin writes on the history of VisiCalc on his website: [1] Unless someone has a factual objection, I will edit the article in a few days. Christopher Rath (talk) 13:47, 25 March 2014 (UTC)