VisiCalc review

Filed under Software showcase;

I have a soft spot in my heart for VisiCalc, though perhaps more as an idea than a piece of software. I don’t advocate using the world’s first-ever electronic spreadsheet in modern times, except perhaps as a learning tool or torture device. But with this the software that cemented the Apple II’s place in business having been invented practically in my own backyard (Massachusetts) by Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston, I can’t help but have a sense of pride and nostalgia for the little productivity tool.

YouTube artist Brian Picchi is apparently also a fan, as he’s recently deviated from his usual computer game reviews to spend five minutes with VisiCalc:

Half historical narrative and half review, Picchi’s video is an effective summary of the key points of VisiCalc’s significance and function. I didn’t remember VisiCalc’s formulae for equations, so it was interesting to see that they aren’t much different from the syntax used in AppleWorks or Excel.

I could’ve interviewed Brian for more details about his video, but since he often reads this blog, I’ll ask him to leave a comment: Where did you get your v1.37 VisiCalc, Brian?

For more non-gaming critiques from Picchi, check out his top ten television shows cancelled after one season.

  1. “…a learning tool or torture device” :) The former being the great minority nowadays but a group I happily belong to. Yes, I admit it, I’m a VisiCalc fan. I always knew it had a big impact on Apple from comments both the Steve’s have made in the past, but I didn’t realize just how much until I did a little research and saw the numbers and wow, this little tool sure made waves. Thank you very much for this great write up and plug for my videos. To answer your question about where I got it… from ebay of all places. Oddly enough I was the only bidder and got it for 9 bucks several months back. Sadly the disk didn’t work so for my video I used a later version I had lying around from the Visicorp days which still works great.

  2. Thanks for the memories.

    One minor correction — Visible Calculator rather than Visual Calculator. At least that was what I was thinking when I came up with the name — but since the name could mean either it’s just a footnote for the nit picky.

  3. I enjoyed the Visicalc video. Are you looking for a Visicalc? Check my Apple II productivity listings on my web site.