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Comments in the following email refer to version 3.0 of Power, D. "A Brief History of Spreadsheets"

Date: Thu, 15 Apr 1999 16:04:51 -0400   
From: Bob Frankston 
To: "Daniel Power, UNI Management Dept."            
Subject: RE: VisiCalc history 

So far I've only glanced at the page. 

One observation is that Mattessich completely misses the point. I don't 
begrudge him his work in accounting in the 60's but it had not the slightest 
influence on VisiCalc. It was one of many online financial programs. 
I worked on some systems while at Interactive Data in the 60's and 70's. 
But VisiCalc was not an accounting program at all, it just made it possible 
for people to do accounting. Programs that were overly tuned for such 
function (Javelin, Lotus Improv, etc) completely failed. 

As you explain spreadsheet is a simply a piece of paper spread out to allow 
you to work on problems. But business transactions are not an important use 
-- production planning and other applications are more important.

What made VisiCalc novel was the ability to not only interact but have it learn by example. Again, VisiCalc
doesn't summarize or do anything, it is just a tool to allow others to work out
their ideas and reduce the tedium of repeating the same calculations.

As to the details, Dan did a prototype in Apple ][ Integer Basic. We'd already 
been planning to work  together. Dan's code was not the basis for mine, 
the example was key. What was important were the features we'd left. We'd 
already discussed wall-sized interactive displays with live graphics but 
the systems weren't up to it. More important, the grid provided the 
simplifying structure that made it a spreadsheet as a opposed to a more 
general surface.

As an FYI, Mitch was the VisiCalc product manager at VisiCorp. Also, we 
invented the A1 notation for VisiCalc. IT was Multiplan that did 
the R1C1 stuff.

As to VisiCorp's suicidal behavior ...
 

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