From: Ward Donald Griffiths III <>
Date: Fri Jan 2 23:47:54 1998

Joe wrote:

> Actually I think VisiCalc WAS the early version of Lotus 123. I don't
> remember all the names but VisiCalc was originally developed by some guy as
> a school project. One of the other students liked it and bought the rights
> to it for something like $100 and formed Lotus Developement Corp (I think
> that's the right name). It was first marketed as VisiCalc and was
> virtually unchanged from the original project software except for being
> ported to different systems. Later the name was changed to Lotus 123 and
> the product was further developed. Another case of the inventor ending up
> sweeping floors and a promoter becoming rich with someone else's idea.
> (Tesla >> George Westinghouse) (Henry >> Oliver Winchester) etc etc.

Actually Lotus (and SuperCalc for CP/M) were look/feel clones of
VisiCalc. VisiCalc was originally written in Apple _Integer_ BASIC
and then later converted to 6502 assembly. More than Xerox, it's
responsible for the existence of the Mac: if not for VisiCalc, Apple
would have been bankrupted out of the computer business by 1981, but
the very existence of VisiCalc sold a shitload of Apples. And by
concatenation, VisiCalc is responsible for Windows.

VisiCalc versus Lotus was the first look/feel copyright battle, long
before Apple sued Microsoft over concepts they got from Xerox. The
winner was VisiCalc, but fat lot of good it did. Eventually, Lotus
bought all rights to VisiCalc and buried it. SuperCalc (despite the
best efforts of Computer Associates) is long dead, and nowadays about
all desktop spreadsheeting (by other than us Unix junkies) in done
with Micro$oft Exc(rement)ell. And I say this as a guy who learned on
the TRS-80 version of VisiCalc but whose preferred spreadsheet program
is (Micro$oft) MultiPlan, which still works fine on a Z-80 and a
Ward Griffiths
Two thousand yeare since Bethlehem and still we hear the lie,
that after years of hopes and fears the best part's when we die.
Received on Fri Jan 02 1998 - 23:47:54 GMT

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