S1E8 VisiCorp VisiCalc – Supplement

 

This episode features VisiCalc, originally released in 1980 by Personal Software and later in 1982 released by VisiCorp.  It was written by Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston under Software Arts, Inc.  This program for the Atari 8 bit line of computers was the first commercial spreadsheet for the Atari.  There is a very interesting relationship with the company names, see the show links at the bottom for full details.

Podcast: Download

Box and Manual Scans

I provided these scans to AtariMania as well to replace the scans of the tattered box that was found there.

Scan of the front and back of the box sleeve:

VisiCorp VisiCalc Box Front VisiCorp VisiCalc Box Back

 

Scan of the front of the box (the back is the same):

VisiCorp VisiCalc Box Inner

 

Scan of the Manual Cover and the License Agreement Insert:

VisiCorp VisiCalc Manual Cover VisiCorp VisiCalc License Agreement

 

Scan of the original manual cover and first manual page as developed by Software Arts, Inc, and published by Personal Software, Inc:

VisiCalcManual1Sm Software Arts VisiCalc Manual Cover

 

First Advertisment

The very first ad was a teaser and placed in Byte Magazine’s May 1979 issue:

Ad:

VisiCalc First Advertisement

 

Byte May 1979 Cover:

VisiCalc Byte Magazine May 1979 Cover

 

Subsequent Ads:

From Compute! November 1980:

S1E8-ad-VisiCalcCompute11-1980

 

Atari Advertising

Here is a full page ad from Atari in 1980 for VisiCalc:

VisiCalc 1980 Full Page Ad

 

VisiCalc in Action

No splash screens, no menus, boot right into the application and start working – very productive:

VisiCalc Boot Good

 

Boot failure with a cartridge in:

VisiCalc Boot Failure

 

Press / to bring up the menu:

VisiCalc Menu

 

Forward Referencing example:

VisiCalc Forward Reference

 

Circular Reference example.  Each recalculation causes the value to be further incorrectly calculated:

VisiCalc Circular Reference

 

Cell replication in several steps, two displayed (range selection, and reference updates):

VisiCalc Cell Replication

VisiCalc Cell Replication

Lookup function in use.  Value in A13 is looked up in range B1 to B11, which lands at B5.  The value to be returned is immediately to the right at C5.  Had the lookup range been in a row, the value returned would need to be immediately below the matching cell:

VisiCalc Lookup Function

 

The column widths being demonstrated at 9 characters.  Column width effects all columns.  A1 contains .0000007, A2 contains .00000008, A3 contains 88888888, A4 contains 888888888 (one more significant digit than A3).

A6 contains ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ, B6 contains JKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ, C6 contains STUVWXYZ.  All strings terminated at 9 characters:

VisiCalc Column Widths

 

Example of complete spreadsheet (from the lessons in the manual):

VisiCalc Budget Example

 

Using split window mode on the budget spreadsheet:

VisiCalc Split Window

 

Another example of split window, this time using different column widths in each window and the graphing format:

VisiCalc Split Window Graphing

 

Printing

Printing the budget spreadsheet entire range:

https://inverseatascii.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/s1e8-print-output.pdf

 

Printing the graph spreadsheet formulas:

https://inverseatascii.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/s1e8-print-formulas.pdf

 

Cheat Sheet

Pocket Reference download

 

Show Links:

 

Bit Rating 8

 

Intro music is an excerpt from a chip tune by Wizwars named 8 Bit Raceway.  It is used under Creative Common license Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.
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9 thoughts on “S1E8 VisiCorp VisiCalc – Supplement

  1. As always, enjoyed your podcast. VisiCalc on the Atari was the first spreadsheet I ever used. I was a teenager and it was a pirated copy without a manual so it was pretty hard to figure out what it was all about and how to use it as I had to learn by trial and error. As I hardly needed a spreadsheet I remember doing some calculations for my dad, certainly one of the rare occasions when I could do something really “grown-up-useful” with the Atari.

    SynCalc looked a bit niftier but AFAIK it wasn’t as flexible in copying cell references in formulas. (Something to look into when you review it.)

    1. Thanks for the story! It’s always interesting to hear how others used the software as well. I’ll keep the cell references in mind when I feature SynCalc.

  2. Bob Frankston will be at VCF East 10 on Sunday April 19th. I’m looking forward to his talk and maybe getting a copy of the Atari 8-bit version VisiCalc autographed!

    Bill

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