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

Subject: RE: Spreadsheets history
Date: Wed, 12 May 1999 17:25:22 -0400
From: Dan Bricklin 
Organization: Trellix Coropration
To: 'Dan Power' 
CC: "''" 


As I said I'd do in my email a few weeks ago (I've inluded a copy below) 
I've posted on my web site a first attempt at addressing what's so special 
about VisiCalc that makes people call it the "first" electronic spreadsheet 
as we know them today. As to the story of coming up with the idea and 
refining it into a product, I have the beginnings on my site (which you've 
read already, I assume) and Bob and I are working on more information about
design decisions, exactly what happened, etc. Since we were often the only
ones there, I hope you'll put some trust in our story (which we'll try to
back up with pictures, check with friends from that time, etc.). I'll be
seeing some of my classmates from Harvard in a few weeks and will try to
get more first-hand accounts of the history.

Here's the URL for my posting:

If you want some nit picks on your piece (if not, skip this paragraph): I
programmed the first "working prototypes" (not "working version") in the
fall of 1978 (Oct? Nov? I'll have to check -- I think it was over a long
weekend), not the summer. I recruited Bob to do a real, assembler version,
instead of the prototype in Integer Basic. The prototypes actually had a
better interface in some cases (context sensitive help, for example). Bob
was to build production code (faster speed, better arithmetic, scrolling,
etc.). Since one of the things that made VisiCalc special was the
implementation and the details only worked out in that implementation (some
of which we will cover in that material Bob and I are working on) Bob is
referred to as the "co-creator" of VisiCalc. If you want to include his
many contributions in the category of invention, then he certainly is a
"co-inventor", but there is no question he was a co-creator. Fylstra, Bob,
and I first talked about VisiCalc in the fall (after summer vacation I call
fall) of 1978. I'll get the actual dates of some of these meetings later
(for the record, not that many people care...). I don't think the number of
sold copies ever made it over several hundred thousand, but I don't have
the records ("about 1 million" sounds nice and if you round 500K+ up, then
it's probably correct). [Enough nits... Tell me if you want things at this
detail. :) ]

Let me know what you think.

Thanks again for your interest in the history of this area.


I see you've been making changes. I've been following Bob's interchanges
with you, and have been working on a page for my site to address questions
such as "were you the first?", "what was special?" etc. (I get inquiries
periodically regarding this stuff.)

I'll let you know when I post the piece (over the next few weeks, I hope).

I appreciate the amount of effort you are expending to get as much info as
you can. The emails from Bob and Mitch show how it is evolving and add to
the piece. I hope the stuff I write will help, too (though it covers some
of the same ground they cover...).

As you would expect, there are quibbles over various things, but this is
your piece, not mine.


From:   Dan Power[]
Sent:   Wednesday, April 28, 1999 3:13 PM
Subject:        Spreadsheets history

Hi Dan--

I like your site.  I've added a link to it from my web paper "A Brief
History of Spreadsheets".  There is a link to the paper from my site DSS
Resources at

If you have a chance I'd appreciate any comments or suggestions.

Dan Power