kottke.org posts about Dan Bricklin

Lotus 1-2-3 is 30 years old

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 29, 2013

Dan Bricklin, the inventor of spreadsheet software in the form of VisiCalc, writes an appreciation of Lotus 1-2-3, which perfected and popularized spreadsheets, on the occasion of its 30th birthday.

While VisiCalc concentrated on just being able to do spreadsheets at all, Lotus 1-2-3 went to the next level and addressed the final printed output much better, with more number formats, variable column widths, long labels, and that very-hard-to-do-by-hand graphing. And it did all of this with greater speed than anything else. Speed and fluid operations matters, as the Palm Pilot later showed (with its instant page turning in response to taps), and then the Apple iOS products showed after that.

The code itself stood the test of time and for years beat out most other products running on the hardware for which it was designed. It wasn’t until a platform switch occurred (GUI) that the torch was passed to the next dominant spreadsheet, Excel.

The team Mitch assembled to get the “full” product (including documentation, sales, etc.) out the door had some of the best positioned and most experienced (with personal computing) people in the world. He also worked with one of the most tied-in to the personal computing business venture capitalist, Ben Rosen. A dream team at the time and in hindsight.

Also, wow, this Lotus 1-2-3 promotional video from 1983 is amazing:

My dad had a copy of the first version of 1-2-3…we both used the hell out of it for a long time. (via @joeljohnson)

Step by step

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 15, 2009

If you’re Dan Bricklin, co-inventor of the spreadsheet, how do you go about learning a new programming environment? Just like everyone else:

In mid-September I purchased a shiny new 24” Apple iMac and an iPhone 3GS. I signed up for the Apple iPhone Developer Program. I bought some books and started doing the tutorials, step by step. I came up with the idea for an app I needed and built a prototype, then plunged in and started creating a full app that would be good for others, too.

Personally, I find this really inspiring.