Dan Bricklin

Dan Bricklin bigraphy, stories - VisiCalc inventor

Dan Bricklin : biography

16 July 1951 –

Daniel Singer "Dan" Bricklin (born 16 July 1951), often referred to as “The Father of the Spreadsheet”, is the American co-creator, with Bob Frankston, of the VisiCalc spreadsheet program. He also founded Software Garden, Inc., of which he is currently president, and Trellix Corporation, which is currently owned by Web.com.. TechStars. Accessed Jan 3 2011.. CS Dept. NSF-Supported Education Infrastructure Project. Accessed January 3, 2011.


In 1994, Bricklin was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery. He is a founding trustee of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council and has served on the boards of the Software Publishers Association and the Boston Computer Society. He has also elected to be a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Early life

Bricklin was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, where he attended Akiba Hebrew Academy during his high school years. He earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973, where he was a resident of Bexley Hall. He began his college career as a mathematics major, but soon switched to computer science.

Upon graduating from MIT, Bricklin worked for Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) until 1976, when he began working for FasFax, a cash register manufacturer. In 1977, he decided to return to school, and he earned a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University in 1979.

While a student at Harvard Business School, Bricklin co-developed VisiCalc in 1979, making it the first electronic spreadsheet readily available for home and office use. It ran on an Apple II computer, and was considered a fourth generation software program. VisiCalc is widely credited for fueling the rapid growth of the personal computer industry. Instead of doing financial projections with manually calculated spreadsheets, and having to recalculate with every single cell in the sheet, VisiCalc allowed the user to change any cell, and have the entire sheet automatically recalculated. This turned 20 hours of work into 15 minutes and allowed for more creativity.]. Accessed January 3, 2011.

Awards and accomplishments

Dan Bricklin has received many honors for his contributions to the computer industry from the ACM, IEEE, MIT, PC Magazine, the Western Society of Engineers, and others. In 1981, he was given a Grace Murray Hopper Award for VisiCalc.

In 1996, Bricklin was awarded by the IEEE Computer Society with the Computer Entrepreneur Award for pioneering the development and commercialization of the spreadsheet and the profound changes it fostered in business and industry.. IEEE Computer Society. Accessed January 3, 2011.

In 2003, Bricklin was given the Wharton Infosys Business Transformation Award for being a technology change leader. He was recognized for having used information technology in an industry-transforming way. He has received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Newbury College.

In 2004, he was made a Fellow of the Computer History Museum "for advancing the utility of personal computers by developing the VisiCalc electronic spreadsheet."

Bricklin has appeared in the 1996 documentary Triumph of the Nerds, as well as the 2005 documentary Aardvark’d: 12 Weeks with Geeks, in both cases discussing the development of VisiCalc. His book, Bricklin on Technology, was published by Wiley in May 2009.

Professional career

Software Arts

In 1979, Bricklin and Frankston founded Software Arts, Inc., and began selling VisiCalc. Along with co-founder Bob Frankston, he started writing versions of the program for the Tandy TRS-80, Commodore PET and the Atari 800. Soon after its launch, VisiCalc became a fast seller at $100.

Bricklin was given a Grace Murray Hopper Award in 1981 for VisiCalc. Bricklin never received a patent for VisiCalc, since software programs weren’t made eligible for patents by the Supreme Court until after 1981.

Bricklin was chairman of Software Arts until 1985, when he left to found Software Garden.

Software Garden

Dan Bricklin founded Software Garden, a small consulting firm and developer of software applications, in 1985. The company’s focus was to produce and market “Dan Bricklin’s Demo Program”. The program allowed users to create demonstrations of their programs before they were even written, and was also used to create tutorials for Windows-based programs. Other versions released soon after included demo-it!. He remained the president of the company until he co-founded Slate Corporation in 1990. In 1992 he became the vice president of Slate corporation. When Slate closed in 1994, Bricklin returned to Software Garden.

Trellix Corporation

In 1995 Bricklin founded Trellix Corporation. Trellix was bought by Interland (now Web.com) in 2003, and Bricklin became Interland’s chief technology officer until early 2004.

He introduced the term "friend-to-friend networking" on August 11, 2000.

He also introduced the term cornucopia of the commons about the same time.

Current work

Bricklin continues to serve as president of Software Garden, a small company which develops and markets software tools he creates (most notably "Dan Bricklin’s Demo Program"), as well as providing speaking and consulting services.

He has released , an app that integrates hand written notes on the iPad.

He is also developing wikiCalc, a collaborative, basic spreadsheet running on the Web.