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Re: First spreadsheet

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 of 15 , Nov 5, 2007
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                    Somebody declare this horse dead already.
                  • Jim Scheef
                    Ok, it is dead.
                    Message 9 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
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                    • madodel
                      ... He s dead Jim. :-) Mark -- From the eComStation Desktop of: Mark Dodel Warpstock 2007 - Toronto, Ontario, Canada: http://www.warpstock.org Warpstock
                      Message 10 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 11 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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