Tuesday, January 22, 2008

James Fallows (January 21, 2008) - Mitch Kapor on spreadsheets, Magellan, etc

Setting the record straight

Yesterday, a NYT tech column suggested that Mitch Kapor of Lotus was responsible for the fundamental innovation of the spreadsheet.

Today I said, quoting Dottie Hall, that actually Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston had invented the spreadsheet, with VisiCalc for the Apple II -- but Kapor had brought it to the PC world with Lotus 1-2-3.

Kapor writes to say that's wrong too!

As long as we're beating a dead frog, let me add my two Linden dollars*: Bill Gross was responsible for Lotus Magellan, not me. I had nothing to do with it.

Also, "and while he (me, that is) can be credited with introducing the spreadsheet for the PC," is not true either. Both VisiCalc and MultiPlan were available when the IBM PC shipped in October 1981. 1-2-3 didn't hit the market until January 1983.

Mitch is a classy guy -- and his track record, including 1-2-3 and Agenda (and the funding to bootstrap Lotus Notes), among many other things, is still very impressive.

James Fallows (January 21, 2008) - Mitch Kapor on spreadsheets, Magellan, etc

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