Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Bob Frankston - American software engineer and businessman

Robert M. Frankston is an American software engineer and businessman who co-created, with Dan Bricklin, the VisiCalc spreadsheet program. VisiCalc is the first personal computer spreadsheet.

Frankston was born on June 14, 1949 and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He received SB degrees in both computer science and mathematics (1970) and master's and engineer’s degrees in computer science (1974), all from MIT.

Bob Frankston and Dan Bricklin first met at the Laboratory for Computer Science at MIT, programming various interactive systems. Frankston was doing graduate work back at MIT’s Laboratory for Computer Science. In 1979, Frankston founded Software Arts with Dan Bricklin to develop and sell VisiCalc, the first electronic spreadsheet program for personal computers.

VisiCalc was the first spreadsheet program released in 1979 for the Apple II computer. It was easy to use and allowed for data sorting and storing in tabular rows and columns. VisiCalc was created to address and replace the manual spreadsheet management method.

Frankston has worked for a number of companies since then as well, including Lotus Development Corp., Slate Corp., and Microsoft. At Lotus Development, he created the Lotus Express product and a fax facility for Lotus Notes. At Microsoft Frankston championed the effort to integrate the Internet with personal computing and home networking.

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.
Bob Frankston - American software engineer and businessman

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