Dan Bricklin : Father of the Spreadsheet


Dan Bricklin, born in 1951, is an American computer scientist, entrepreneur, and visionary credited with co-creating VisiCalc, the world’s first electronic spreadsheet program. This groundbreaking software revolutionized business computing and paved the way for modern productivity applications. Bricklin’s career is characterized by his passion for technology, entrepreneurial spirit, and commitment to empowering users through innovative software tools.

Early Life and Education

Bricklin’s interest in technology began during his childhood. He pursued his passion for computers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he studied computer science and electrical engineering. While at MIT, Bricklin’s experience working with time-sharing systems and programming languages laid the foundation for his future endeavors.

The Birth of VisiCalc

In 1978, Bricklin teamed up with Bob Frankston to develop VisiCalc, a revolutionary spreadsheet program that allowed users to perform complex calculations and financial modeling on personal computers. VisiCalc’s intuitive interface and powerful functionality made it an instant success, driving the adoption of personal computers in the business world.

Entrepreneurial Ventures

Following the success of VisiCalc, Bricklin co-founded Software Arts, the company that marketed and distributed the software. He later founded Trellix Corporation, a provider of web publishing software, and continued to develop innovative software solutions throughout his career.

Contributions to Software Development

Bricklin’s contributions to the software industry extend beyond VisiCalc. He pioneered concepts such as “software garden,” a user-centric approach to software development, and “pen-based computing,” which anticipated the rise of tablets and touch-screen devices. He also contributed to the development of early word processors and other productivity tools.

Advocacy for User Empowerment

Bricklin’s work reflects a strong belief in empowering users through technology. He emphasized the importance of intuitive interfaces and user-friendly design, making complex software tools accessible to a broader audience. His vision for “software gardens” promoted collaboration and community-driven development, allowing users to contribute to the evolution of software products.

Career Timeline

1951Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1978Co-creates VisiCalc with Bob Frankston
1979Co-founds Software Arts
1985Co-founds Slate Corporation, a pen-based computing company
1990Founds Software Garden, Inc.
1995Founds Trellix Corporation
2000Receives the IEEE Computer Society Computer Entrepreneur Award
2019Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame

Dan Bricklin’s legacy is one of innovation, entrepreneurship, and a unwavering commitment to user empowerment. His creation of VisiCalc sparked a revolution in personal computing, transforming how businesses operate and paving the way for a new era of productivity. Bricklin’s vision for “software gardens” and user-centric design continues to inspire software developers today, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and user engagement in creating impactful technology solutions.