Dan Fylstra

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Dan Fylstra is a pioneer of the software products industry.

A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,[1] in 1975 he was a founding associate editor of Byte magazine. In 1978 he co-founded Personal Software,[2][3] and that year reviewed the Commodore PET 2001 and TRS-80 Model I for Byte while studying for an MBA at the Harvard Business School, having ordered each almost immediately after release.[1][4] Personal Software became the distributor of a new program called VisiCalc, the first-ever computer spreadsheet. In his marketing efforts Fylstra ran teaser ads in Byte that asked, considering electronic spreadsheets were an entirely new product category, "How did you ever do without it?"[5]

The VisiCalc-Apple connection suggested the hypothesis of the "killer app"—or the "software tail that wags the hardware dog."[6] Once VisiCalc caught on, people came into computer stores asking for VisiCalc and then also the computer (the Apple II) they would need to run the program. VisiCalc sales exceeded 700,000 units by 1983.[7]

Fylstra's software products company, later called VisiCorp, was the #1 personal-computer software publisher in 1981 with $20 million in revenues as well as in 1982 with $35 million (exceeding Microsoft which became the largest such firm in 1983).[8]

Fylstra is the former president of Sierra Sciences, and is currently president of software vendor Frontline Systems. He joined the Libertarian Party in 1998.[9]


  1. ^ a b Fylstra, Dan (March 1978). "User's Report: The PET 2001". Byte. p. 114. Retrieved October 17, 2013.
  2. ^ "Sagas of Five Who Made It". Time. February 15, 1982. Archived from the original on November 3, 2012.
  3. ^ Pierce, Kenneth M.; Moritz, Michael (October 5, 1981). "Software for the Masses". Time. Archived from the original on September 28, 2006.
  4. ^ Fylstra, Dan (April 1978). "The Radio Shack TRS-80: An Owner's Report". Byte. p. 49. Retrieved October 17, 2013.
  5. ^ "VisiCalc of Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston". History Computer. July 15, 2021. Retrieved October 22, 2021.
  6. ^ Ceruzzi, Paul (1998). A History of Modern Computing. MIT Press. p. 267.
  7. ^ Campbell-Kelly, Martin (2003). From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog: A History of the Software Industry. MIT Press. p. 215.
  8. ^ Campbell-Kelly, Martin (2003). From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog: A History of the Software Industry. MIT Press. p. 211.
  9. ^ Dan Fylstra – Libertarian from Advocates for Self-Government website

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