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Daniel Singer "Dan" Bricklin (born 16 July 1951), often referred to as “The Father of the Spreadsheet”, is the American co-creator, with Bob Frankston, of the VisiCalc spreadsheet program. He also founded Software Garden, Inc., of which he is currently president, and Trellix Corporation, which is currently owned by[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Bricklin was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, where he attended Akiba Hebrew Academy during his high school years. He received his B.S. in electrical engineering/computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973, where he was a resident of Bexley Hall. He had initially began his college career as a mathematics major, but soon switched to computer science.[1][2]

Upon graduating from MIT worked for Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) until 1976, when he began working for FasFax, a cash register manufacturer. In 1977 he decided to return to school, and he received his MBA from Harvard University in 1979.[1][2]

While a student At Harvard Business School, Bricklin co-developed VisiCalc in 1979, making it the first electronic spreadsheet. It ran on an Apple II computer, and was considered a fourth generation software program. VisiCalc is widely credited for fueling the rapid growth of the personal computer industry. Instead of doing financial projections with manually calculated spreadsheets, and having to recalculate with every single cell in the sheet, VisiCalc allowed the user to change any cell, and have the entire sheet automatically recalculated. This turned 20 hours of work into 15 minutes and allowed for more creativity.[1][3][2]

Prior to forming Software Arts, Bricklin had been a market researcher for Prime Computer Inc., a senior systems programmer for FasFax Corporation, and a senior software engineer for Digital Equipment Corporation.[1]

Professional career[edit]

Software Arts[edit]

In 1979, Bricklin and Frankston founded Software Arts, Inc., and began selling VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet program available for personal computers. Along with co-founder Bob Frankston, he started writing versions of the program for the Tandy TRS-80, Commodore PET and the Atari 800. Soon after its launch, VisiCalc became a fast seller at $100.[3][2]

Bricklin was given a Grace Murray Hopper Award in 1981 for VisiCalc. Soon after, the program was sold to Lotus Development Corporation, where it developed into the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet for the PC by 1983. Bricklin never received a patent for VisiCalc, since software programs weren't made eligible for patents by the Supreme Court until after 1981.[3][2]

Bricklin was chairman of Software Arts until 1985, when he left to found Software Garden.

Software Garden[edit]

Dan Bricklin founded Software Garden, a small consulting firm and developer of software applications, in 1985. His intentions with this new company were to not let it grow out of control like the last one; he desired to keep it small. The company's focus was to produce and market “Dan Bricklin's Demo Program”. The program allowed users to create demonstrations of their programs before they were even written, and was also used to create tutorials for Windows-based programs. Other versions released soon after included demo-it!. He remained the president of the company until he co-founded Slate Corporation in 1990. In 1992 he became the vice president of Slate corporation, however Slate closed in 1994 and so Bricklin returned to Software Garden.[1][2]

Trellix Corporation[edit]

In 1995 Bricklin founded Trellix Corporation. Trellix was bought by Interland (now in 2003, and Bricklin became Interland's chief technology officer.

Until early 2004, Bricklin served as CTO (Chief Technology Officer) of Interland, Inc, after Trellix acquired it in 2003.[1]

He introduced the term "friend-to-friend networking" on August 11, 2000.[4]

Current work[edit]

Bricklin is currently president of Software Garden, a small company which develops and markets software tools he creates (most notably "Dan Bricklin's Demo Program"), as well as providing speaking and consulting services.

He is also developing wikiCalc, a collaborative, basic spreadsheet running on the Web.


In 1994, Bricklin was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery. He is a founding trustee of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council and has served on the boards of the Software Publishers Association and the Boston Computer Society. He has also elected to be a member of the National Academy of Engineering.[1]


Dan Bricklin has recieved many honors for his contributions to the computer industry from the ACM, IEEE, MIT, PC Magazine, the Western Society of Engineers, and others.[1] In 1981, he was given a Grace Murray Hopper Award for VisiCalc.[3]

In 1996, Bricklin was awarded by the IEEE Computer Society with the Computer Entrepreneur Award for pioneering the development and commercialization of the spreadsheet and the profound changes it fostered in business and industry.[5]

In 2003, Bricklin was given the Wharton Infosys Business Transformation Award for being a technology change leader. He was recognized for having used information technology in an industry-transforming way. He has received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Newbury College.[1]

Bricklin has appeared in the 1996 documentary Triumph of the Nerds, as well as the 2005 documentary Aardvark'd: 12 Weeks with Geeks, in both cases discussing the development of VisiCalc.[6] His book, Bricklin on Technology, was published by Wiley in May of 2009.[1][7]

A book by Dan Bricklin</ref>


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Dan Bricklin Co-creator of VisiCalc, and Founder of Software Garden, Inc.. TechStars. Accessed Jan 3 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Daniel Bricklin Bio. CS Dept. NSF-Supported Education Infrastructure Project. Accessed January 3 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d [ The First Spreadsheet - VisiCalc. Inventors. Accessed January 3 2011.
  4. ^ Friend-to-Friend Networks
  5. ^ Past Recipients. IEEE Computer Society. Accessed January 3 2011.
  6. ^ "Dan Bricklin". Retrieved 2010-08-31.
  7. ^ [ Information About Bricklin on Technology]. Accessed January 3 2011.