The First ‘Killer App’ for PCs Is Released

October 11, 2011 | posted in: Tech Chronicles | by

VisiCalc Creators, Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston, 1979. Image courtesy of library.thinkquest.org.

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

October 11, 1979

Visicalc is released by Dan Bricklin. The spreadsheet application is called the first killer app for personal computers because it turned the PC from a hobby into a business tool.

Conceived by Dan Bricklin, refined by Bob Frankston, developed by their company Software Arts, and distributed by Personal Software in 1979 (later named VisiCorp) for the Apple II computer, it propelled the Apple from being a hobbyist’s toy to a useful tool for business.

According to Bricklin, he was watching a professor at Harvard Business School create a financial model on a blackboard. When the professor found an error or wanted to change a parameter, he had to erase and rewrite a number of sequential entries in the table. Bricklin realized that he could replicate the process on a computer using an “electronic spreadsheet” to view results of underlying formulae.

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