I love VisiCalc. The world's first electronic spreadsheet was also one of my first computer games. Although an Apple II booted without a floppy still had access to Applesoft BASIC , that environment expected precise input, rewarding creativity with SYNTAX ERROR. Cursor movement was also limited, with text appearing on consecutive lines only. VisiCalc, by contrast, not only let me type words and numbers, but I could put them anywhere on the screen! It was a great introduction to the power of personal computing.
The world was introduced to that potential 32 years ago today, when VisiCalc received its first public demonstration  at the West Coast Computer Faire in San Francisco. It set the accounting world on fire and is often considered one of the first "killer apps", warranting the Apple II a place in business. Reports I Programmer: "People bought personal computer simply to run VisiCalc. At its peak, it sold 2 million copies at $150 per copy in 12 months."
Aside from the program, the man behind the machine, Dan Bricklin , also remains a visible entity. His history  is as fascinating as the modern insights he offers on the evolution and changes in personal computing. In this recent ITworld follow-up  to Susan Lammers' 1986 book  Programmers at Work , he offers several reflections, such as on the evolution of programming:
People are writing their own programs. Anybody who uses a spreadsheet is writing their own programs; it's just that the language is different now…. We're just making the users do more and more of the programming themselves, but they don't know it. Using different style sheets with Microsoft Word is doing programming; using spreadsheets is doing programming.
Those interested in seeing where Dan Bricklin has taken software development in the last 32 years can check out his iPad  application, Note Taker HD , courtesy his company, the Software Garden , or watch him on Triangulation  tonight at 7 PM EDT.
(Hat tip to Mitch Wagner )