Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Chapter 1: Excel 2010: Where It Came From
When the IBM PC arrived on the scene in 1981, legitimizing personal computers, VisiCorp wasted
no time porting VisiCalc to this new hardware environment, and Sorcim soon followed with a PC
version of SuperCalc.
By current standards, both VisiCalc and SuperCalc were extremely crude. For example, text
entered into a cell couldn’t extend beyond the cell — a lengthy title had to be entered into
multiple cells. Nevertheless, the ability to automate the budgeting tedium was enough to lure
thousands of accountants from paper ledger sheets to floppy disks.
You can download a copy of the original VisiCalc from Dan Bricklin’s Web site at www.
bricklin.com . And yes, nearly 30 years later, this 27K program still runs on today’s
PCs (see Figure 1-1).
Figure 1-1: VisiCalc, running in a DOS window on a PC running Windows XP.
Envious of VisiCalc’s success, a small group of computer freaks at a start-up company in
Cambridge, Massachusetts, refined the spreadsheet concept. Headed by Mitch Kapor and
Jonathan Sachs, the company designed a new product and launched the software industry’s first
full-fledged marketing blitz. I remember seeing a large display ad for 1-2-3 in The Wall Street
Journal. It was the first time that I’d ever seen software advertised in a general interest publication.
Released in January 1983, Lotus Development Corporation’s 1-2-3 was an instant success. Despite
its $495 price tag (which is probably close to $1,000 in today’s dollars), it quickly outsold
VisiCalc, rocketing to the top of the sales charts, where it remained for many years.
What Lotus did right
Lotus 1-2-3 improved on all the basics embodied in VisiCalc and SuperCalc and was also the first
program to take advantage of the new and unique features found in the powerful 16-bit IBM PC
AT. For example, 1-2-3 bypassed the slower DOS calls and wrote text directly to display memory,