Dan Bricklin

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Dan Bricklin
Dan Bricklin - 2007.jpg
Dan Bricklin in 2007
Born (1951-07-16) July 16, 1951 (age 67)
Alma materMassachusetts Institute of Technology (BS)
Harvard University (MBA)
Known forVisiCalc
Dan Bricklin's Demo Program

Daniel Singer 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.[1] He currently serves as the chief technology officer of Alpha Software.[2]

His book, Bricklin on Technology, was published by Wiley in May 2009.[3]

Early life[edit]

Bricklin was born in a Jewish family[4] in Philadelphia, where he attended Akiba Hebrew Academy during his high school years, he began his college career as a mathematics major, but soon switched to computer science. 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.[5][1]

Upon graduating from MIT, Bricklin worked for Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) where he was part of the team that worked on WPS-8[6] until 1976, when he began working for FasFax, a cash register manufacturer. In 1977 he returned to education, and was awarded a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University in 1979.[1]

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 could turn 20 hours of work into 15 minutes and allowed for more creativity.[1][7]


Software Arts[edit]

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.[1][7]

Bricklin was awarded the Grace Murray Hopper Award in 1981 for VisiCalc. Bricklin could not patent VisiCalc, since software programs were not eligible for patent protection at the time.

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

Software Garden[edit]

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.[1]

Trellix Corporation[edit]

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.[8]

He also introduced the term cornucopia of the commons about the same time.[9]

Current work[edit]

Bricklin continues to serve as president of Software Garden, a small company that develops and markets software tools he creates, as well as providing speaking and consulting services.

He has released Note Taker HD, an application that integrates handwritten notes on the Apple iPad tablet.

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

He is currently the chief technology officer of Alpha Software in Burlington, Massachusetts, a company that creates tools to easily develop cross-platform mobile business applications.


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 was also elected to be a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Awards and accomplishments[edit]

In 1981, Bricklin was given a Grace Murray Hopper Award for VisiCalc.[7]

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.[10]

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."[11]

Bricklin 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.[12]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Daniel Bricklin Bio. CS Dept. NSF-Supported Education Infrastructure Project. Accessed January 3, 2011.
  2. ^ Software, Alpha. "Alpha Software - The Team Behind Alpha Software". www.alphasoftware.com.
  3. ^ Bricklin, Dan (May 2009), Bricklin on Technology, Wiley Publishing, Inc., p. 512, ISBN 978-0-470-40237-5
  4. ^ "A list of famous Jewish American Computer Scientists". Jewish Software. Archived from the original on 14 October 2013. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
  5. ^ Dan Bricklin Co-creator of VisiCalc, and Founder of Software Garden, Inc.. TechStars. Accessed Jan 3 2011.
  6. ^ Jonathan B. Spira (18 April 2011). Overload!: How Too Much Information is Hazardous to Your Organization. John Wiley & Sons. p. 53. ISBN 978-1-118-06417-7. ...I spoke with Dan Bricklin, the co-inventor of VisiCalc, who was on the team at DEC that developed WPS-8 in the mid-1970s...
  7. ^ a b c The First Spreadsheet - VisiCalc. About.com: Inventors. Accessed January 3, 2011.
  8. ^ "Friend-to-Friend Networks". www.bricklin.com.
  9. ^ "The Cornucopia of the Commons: How to get volunteer labor". bricklin.com.
  10. ^ Past Recipients. IEEE Computer Society. Accessed January 3, 2011.
  11. ^ "Dan Bricklin". Computer History Museum. Archived from the original on 2013-05-09. Retrieved 2019-06-06.
  12. ^ "Dan Bricklin". Imdb.com. Retrieved 2010-08-31.

External links[edit]