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Re: [midatlanticretro] First spreadsheet

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  • Bob Applegate
    We re going to start splitting hairs pretty soon. When the guys wrote it (Bricklen? Other?), they had never seen anything like it before, and that s why they
    Message 1 of 15 , Nov 5, 2007
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      We're going to start splitting hairs pretty soon.  When the guys wrote it (Bricklen?  Other?), they had never seen
      anything like it before, and that's why they created it.  Pretty soon we'll be into the argument of whether a given
      application was a generic spreadsheet or something that looked *liked* a spreadsheet but wasn't quite as
      capable, etc.
       
      Visicalc was the "killer app" that made personal computers attractive to businesses.  Without something like it,
      it could have taken a lot longer for PCs to catch on.
       
      BTW, I was working in a computer store in the early 80s, and specialized in Atari 800/400 machines (extremely
      capable and well ahead of many other machines at the time in terms of technology).  Some suit walked in and
      wanted to see some business apps, so I showed him stuff on the Atari.  He wasn't impressed.  I brought up
      a spreadsheet and gave a quick demo, including color charts, negative numbers in red, etc.  He sat with a
      rather unhappy look for a while and finally declared the Atari was just a video game, and "all those colors looks
      unprofessional.  Businessmen don't want all that nonsense."  I always wondered if that same stiff was using
      Windows and Excel now with grayscale, or did he finally decide color was a good thing.
       
      Bob
       
       
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Evan
      Sent: Monday, November 05, 2007 12:53 AM
      Subject: Re: [midatlanticretro] First spreadsheet

      I don't know. VisiCalc was certainly the first mainstream / successful / easily usable microcomputer spreadsheet. But I am 99.9% sure it was not LITERALLY the first computeritzed spreadsheet.

    • Herb Johnson
      ... VisiCalc, who did and what was it called? ... http://www.bricklin.com/firstspreadsheetquestion.htm The Bricklin Web site itself addresses this question of
      Message 2 of 15 , Nov 5, 2007
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        Jim Scheef <jscheef@...> wrote:
        >
        > Evan,
        >
        > If Dan Bricklin didn't invent the computer spreadsheet when he wrote
        VisiCalc, who did and what was it called?
        >
        > Jim
        >

        http://www.bricklin.com/firstspreadsheetquestion.htm

        The Bricklin Web site itself addresses this question of "first".
        Bricklin himself says Visicalc was not THE first, but it had a number
        of other "firsts" in context.

        I found this and other references by simply Googling "spreadsheet
        history visicalc". Took about a minute. Another reference

        http://www.j-walk.com/ss/history/spreadsh.htm

        states specific publications (books and articles) on computerized
        forms of the spreadsheet, going back to the 1960's.

        Like ALL the other "firsts" in personal computing, there are previous
        inventions and creations. That's simply because the various "first"
        personal computers were not the FIRST computers. Bill Degnan tried to
        make this point, I believe, when he tried to use the term
        "micro-computing" to refer to some kind of one-on-one use of a
        computer with a person in an interactive, nearly-real-time, kind of
        way. Microprocessors in the mid-1970's were just another advance in
        the technical art of providing computing power of some sort, to
        individuals, for individual use instead of corporate or industrial
        use; and away from tedious hand-and-head work with pen and paper.

        Consequently, Bricklin's VisiCalc was one of many "firsts" in
        microprocessor-based personal computing; but not in computing in
        general. It takes a lot of homework and research to make a case for a
        "true" "first", in any area of invention and development. All firsts
        are qualified in some way.

        This question caught my interest, because I've just completed a
        discussion with a Web site author and researcher, who has a very good
        set of pages on the "first personal computer?" We discussed the role
        of the MITS Altair 8800, and traded considerations. I just got
        permission to post our discussion, and it's now on my Web site as:

        http://www.retrotechnology.com/herbs_stuff/altair_first.html

        as a dialog between myself and Doug Salot. Here's his Web page

        http://www.blinkenlights.com/

        and for the question

        http://www.blinkenlights.com/pc.shtml

        I beieve Doug was a VCF exhibitor at VCF 3.0

        Herb Johnson
        retrotechnology.com


        Herb Johnson
      • Evan
        I don t see this as splitting hairs. As someone writing a computer history book, it really bothers me when people abruptly declare a category s first
        Message 3 of 15 , Nov 5, 2007
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          I don't see this as splitting hairs. As someone writing a computer history book, it really bothers me when people abruptly declare a category's first MAINSTREAM product to also be the first EVER product.
        • Evan
          I meant no disrespect to Bricklin, Frankston, and Fylstra... Doug has a good site but his definition of personal computer is too narrow for me. Met him
          Message 4 of 15 , Nov 5, 2007
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            I meant no disrespect to Bricklin, Frankston, and Fylstra...

            Doug has a good site but his definition of "personal computer" is too narrow for me. Met him years a few years ago via Sellam. I say the abacus was first!
          • Sridhar Ayengar
            ... I suspect there were methods for keeping track of numeric mathematics that predate the abacus. 8;-) Piles of stones? Peace... Sridhar
            Message 5 of 15 , Nov 5, 2007
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              Evan wrote:
              > I meant no disrespect to Bricklin, Frankston, and Fylstra...
              >
              > Doug has a good site but his definition of "personal computer" is too narrow for me. Met him years a few years ago via Sellam. I say the abacus was first!

              I suspect there were methods for keeping track of numeric mathematics
              that predate the abacus. 8;-) Piles of stones?

              Peace... Sridhar
            • Evan
              Yup ... stones and drawing lines in the dirt ... and counting on your fingers.
              Message 6 of 15 , Nov 5, 2007
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                Yup ... stones and drawing lines in the dirt ... and counting on your fingers.
              • Jim Scheef
                Sridhar, ... that predate the abacus. 8;-) Piles of stones? It was your ancestors who invented the zero and the positional notation of numbers. These are the
                Message 7 of 15 , Nov 5, 2007
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                  Sridhar,

                  >>I suspect there were methods for keeping track of numeric mathematics
                  that predate the abacus.  8;-)  Piles of stones?

                  It was your ancestors who invented the zero and the positional notation of numbers. These are the keys to computation. Anyone who does not agree can ask a Roman to do long division. Unfortunately the Romans gave credit to the Arabs who carried the number system from India to Europe.

                  Reference: The Universal History of Computing by Georges Ifrah.

                  Back on topic, the Wikipedia entry on spreadsheets was illuminating.
                  For a brief time we had a spreadsheet program on VM/CMS at GF. You started it up and a grid appeared on your 3270. It was totally unusable because every time you moving to a new current cell required a refresh of the 3270 screen and the delay was just too much. Some people thought that VM/CMS could replace personal computers for "personal computing".

                  The Wikipedia gives credit to some mainframe programs as the first "spreadsheets", however it is apparent that these were not the inspiration for VisiCalc. I think most people will agree that the immediacy of the PC is a critical part of a computer "spreadsheet" program.

                  Jim

                  ----- Original Message ----
                  From: Sridhar Ayengar <ploopster@...>
                  To: midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com
                  Sent: Monday, November 5, 2007 1:36:53 PM
                  Subject: Re: [midatlanticretro] Re: First spreadsheet

                  Evan wrote:
                  > I meant no disrespect to Bricklin, Frankston, and Fylstra...
                  >
                  > Doug has a good site but his definition of "personal
                  computer" is too narrow for me.  Met him years a few years ago via Sellam.  I say the abacus was first!

                  I suspect there were methods for keeping track of numeric mathematics
                  that predate the abacus.  8;-)  Piles of stones?

                  Peace...  Sridhar



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                • Evan Koblentz
                  ... spreadsheets , however it is apparent that these were not the inspiration for VisiCalc. In 2004, the Software History Center (now part of the Computer
                  Message 8 of 15 , Nov 5, 2007
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                    Message
                    >>> The Wikipedia gives credit to some mainframe programs as the first "spreadsheets", however it is apparent that these were not the inspiration for VisiCalc.
                     
                    In 2004, the Software History Center (now part of the Computer History Museum) sponsored a conference in the Boston area, called "PC Software: The First Decade" and Bricklin / Frankston were there.  I forget if Fylstra was there.  However, * I * was there.  Someplace (it'll take a long while to find), I have notes from a large group interview of a bunch of historians (including yours truly) with Bricklin.  I'm sure he talked about his inspirations.
                    -----Original Message-----
                    From: Jim Scheef [mailto:jscheef@...]
                    Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2007 12:01 AM
                    To: midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com
                    Subject: Re: [midatlanticretro] Re: First spreadsheet

                    Sridhar,

                    >>I suspect there were methods for keeping track of numeric mathematics
                    that predate the abacus.  8;-)  Piles of stones?

                    It was your ancestors who invented the zero and the positional notation of numbers. These are the keys to computation. Anyone who does not agree can ask a Roman to do long division. Unfortunately the Romans gave credit to the Arabs who carried the number system from India to Europe.

                    Reference: The Universal History of Computing by Georges Ifrah.

                    Back on topic, the Wikipedia entry on spreadsheets was illuminating.
                    For a brief time we had a spreadsheet program on VM/CMS at GF. You started it up and a grid appeared on your 3270. It was totally unusable because every time you moving to a new current cell required a refresh of the 3270 screen and the delay was just too much. Some people thought that VM/CMS could replace personal computers for "personal computing".

                    The Wikipedia gives credit to some mainframe programs as the first "spreadsheets", however it is apparent that these were not the inspiration for VisiCalc. I think most people will agree that the immediacy of the PC is a critical part of a computer "spreadsheet" program.

                    Jim

                    ----- Original Message ----
                    From: Sridhar Ayengar <ploopster@...>
                    To: midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com
                    Sent: Monday, November 5, 2007 1:36:53 PM
                    Subject: Re: [midatlanticretro] Re: First spreadsheet

                    Evan wrote:
                    > I meant no disrespect to Bricklin, Frankston, and Fylstra...
                    >
                    > Doug has a good site but his definition of "personal computer" is too narrow for me.  Met him years a few years ago via Sellam.  I say the abacus was first!

                    I suspect there were methods for keeping track of numeric mathematics
                    that predate the abacus.  8;-)  Piles of stones?

                    Peace...  Sridhar



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                  • Andy Meyer
                    Somebody declare this horse dead already.
                    Message 9 of 15 , Nov 5, 2007
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                      Somebody declare this horse dead already.
                    • Jim Scheef
                      Ok, it is dead.
                      Message 10 of 15 , Nov 6, 2007
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                        Ok, it is dead.


                        --- Andy Meyer <ysgdhio@...> wrote:

                        > Somebody declare this horse dead already.
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > Yahoo! Groups Links
                        >
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                        >
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                      • madodel
                        ... He s dead Jim. :-) Mark -- From the eComStation Desktop of: Mark Dodel Warpstock 2007 - Toronto, Ontario, Canada: http://www.warpstock.org Warpstock
                        Message 11 of 15 , Nov 6, 2007
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                          Jim Scheef wrote:
                          > Ok, it is dead.
                          >
                          >
                          > --- Andy Meyer <ysgdhio@...> wrote:
                          >
                          >> Somebody declare this horse dead already.


                          "He's dead Jim." :-)


                          Mark


                          --

                          From the eComStation Desktop of: Mark Dodel

                          Warpstock 2007 - Toronto, Ontario, Canada: http://www.warpstock.org
                          Warpstock Europe - Valkenswaard close to Eindhoven, the Netherlands:
                          http://www.warpstock.eu


                          For a choice in the future of personal computing, Join VOICE -
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                          Investigation, 1938
                        • Bryan Pope
                          ... Was this horse wearing a red shirt? Cheers, Bryan
                          Message 12 of 15 , Nov 6, 2007
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                            madodel wrote:
                            > Jim Scheef wrote:
                            >
                            >> Ok, it is dead.
                            >>
                            >>
                            >> --- Andy Meyer <ysgdhio@...> wrote:
                            >>
                            >>
                            >>> Somebody declare this horse dead already.
                            >>>
                            >
                            >
                            > "He's dead Jim." :-)
                            >
                            Was this horse wearing a red shirt?

                            Cheers,

                            Bryan
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