May 26, 2023
Floppy Days 126 - Interview with Bob Frankston, Co-developer of Visicalc
Hello, everyone! Welcome to episode 126 of the Floppy Days Podcast, with yours truly, Randy Kindig, as the host.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, listening to this podcast has surely heard of the ground-breaking application (for its time) Visicalc. Visicalc was the first spreadsheet computer program for personal computers, originally released for the Apple II by VisiCorp on October 17, 1979. It is considered the killer application for the Apple II, turning the microcomputer from a hobby for computer enthusiasts into a serious business tool, and then prompting IBM to introduce the IBM PC two years later. More than 700,000 copies were sold in six years, and up to 1 million copies over its history.
Initially developed for the Apple II computer, VisiCalc was ported to numerous platforms, both 8-bit and some of the early 16-bit systems, such as the Commodore PET, Atari 8-bit, TRS-80 (TRSDOS), CP/M, MS-DOS, and even the HP Series 80.
VisiCalc was later replaced in the market by Lotus 1-2-3 and eventually by Microsoft’s Excel, which is the dominant spreadsheet today. Spreadsheets, along with word processors, and presentation tools are still today considered one of the key applications for computing.
Bob Frankston, along with Dan Bricklin, are the co-inventors of VisiCalc. This month, we have an interview with the aforementioned Bob Frankston. Bob was kind enough to take time to talk with me about what it was like to create such a ground-breaking tool.
Before doing that, I have a few new acquisitions to discuss and I’ll tell you about upcoming computer shows.
New Acquisitions/What I’ve Been Up To
Lige and the YouTube show “The Commodore Room” - https://www.youtube.com/@thecommodoreroom4554
Console5 (cap kits)
The 64 bits or less Retro Gaming Festival - June 3-4 - Benton County Fairgrounds in Corvallis, Oregon (sponsored by the Portland Retro Gaming Expo) - https://www.64bitsorless.com/
Boatfest Vintage Computer Exposition - June 23-25 - Hurricane, WV - http://boatfest.info
VCF Southwest - June 23-25 - Davidson-Gundy Alumni Center at University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX - http://vcfsw.org
Pacific Commodore Expo NW v4 - June 24-25 - “Interim” Computer Museum, Seattle, WA - https://www.portcommodore.com/dokuwiki/doku.php?id=pacommex:start
Kickstart Amiga UK Expo - July 1-2 - Nottingham, UK - https://www.amigashow.com/
KansasFest, the largest and longest running annual Apple II conference - July 18-23, 2023 (in-person) - July 29–30, 2023 (virtual) - Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri - https://www.kansasfest.org/
Southern Fried Gaming Expo and VCF Southeast - July 28-30 2023 - Atlanta, GA - https://gameatl.com/
ZZAP! Live 2023 - August 12 - The Holiday Inn, Kenilworth, CV8 1ED - https://fusionretroevents.co.uk/category/zzap-live/
Silly Venture SE (Summer Edition) - Aug. 17-20 - Gdansk, Poland - https://www.demoparty.net/silly-venture/silly-venture-2023-se
Fujiama 2023 - Aug. 30 - Sep. 3 - Lengenfeld, Germany - http://atarixle.ddns.net/fuji/2023/
VCF Midwest - September 9-10 - Waterford Banquets and Conference Center, Elmhurst, IL - http://vcfmw.org/
Tandy Assembly - Sep. 29-Oct. 1 - Courtyard by Marriott in Springfield, Ohio - http://www.tandyassembly.com/
AmiWest - October 14-15 - Sacramento, CA - https://retro.directory/browse/events/4/AmiWest.net
Portland Retro Gaming Expo - October 13-15, 2023 - Oregon Convention Center, Portland, OR - https://retrogamingexpo.com/
Chicago TI International World Faire - October 14, 2023 - Evanston Public Library, Evanston, IL - http://chicagotiug.sdf.org/faire/
World of Commodore - Dec. 2-3, 2023 - Admiral Inn Mississauga, Mississauga, ON - http://www.worldofcommodore.ca/
Facebook show listings - https://www.facebook.com/VintageComputerShows/
Bob’s Website - https://www.frankston.com/
New York Times article on Bricklin and Frankston joining Lotus (acquisition) - https://www.nytimes.com/1985/04/10/business/business-people-former-friendly-rivals-joining-forces-at-lotus.html
Bob interview on TwitTV - https://twit.tv/shows/triangulation/episodes/4