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People Who Changed Computing : Daniel Bricklin

Daniel Bricklin invented something that has completely changed the business world — the Spreadsheet. In the late 70s, while he was a student at the Harvard Business School, he teamed up with Bob Frankston, to come up with VisiCalc, the world’s first electronic spreadsheet application.

Bricklin was watching his university professor create a table of calculation results on a blackboard. When the professor found an error, he had to tediously erase and rewrite a number of sequential entries in the table, triggering Bricklin to think that he could replicate the process on a computer, using the blackboard as the model to view results of underlying formulas. His idea became VisiCalc, for which Bricklin designed the interface and Bob Frankston, wrote most of the code.

They released VisiCalc in 1979, an act that fomented the desktop revolution. He also coined the term friend-to-friend networking as recently as 2000. He is now working on wikiCalc, a spreadsheet running on the web.