A little nostalgia about good old 1979. Did you know that in March 1979, Philips demonstrated their Compact Disc publicly for the first time? Wow, 30 years ago. That's a lifetime in tech years. In fact, CDs seem to be coming to the end of their useful life as a technology. I went looking back at 1979 when I read a piece about the 30th anniversary of the first killer application for the business world - VisiCalc. (I think that's a pretty safe claim.)
First, let's back up two years to 1977 when the Apple II was introduced at the first West Coast Computer Faire. The school I was teaching at in that era had TRS-80 computers (maybe a Commodore PET was in the building too), but the Apple II came with color graphics! Those early models used ordinary cassette tapes as storage devices, but then came the 5.25 inch floppy disk drive and interface called Disk II. That is why the Apple II was chosen to be the desktop platform for the VisiCalc spreadsheet program in 1979.
VisiCalc created a "business market" for Apple and I think it gave them their real push against Commodore and Tandy.
It was conceived by Dan Bricklin, refined by Bob Frankston, and developed by their company Software Arts. (Distributed by Personal Software; later named VisiCorp)
On Bricklin's site, danbricklin.com, there is plenty of history about the development of VisiCalc, and you can download a working copy of VisiCalc. (Lotus gave permission to post a working copy of the original IBM PC VisiCalc spreadsheet program from 1981. You can run it on a PC under MSDOS under Windows.)
Luckily, what I really associate with 1979 is still running well, patches and bug fixes all applied - my marriage.
It has been a magical 30 years. So much change yet a whole of really cool stuff remains. The founders of my isp were also fond of the early days of the pc (e.g. visi). Computers have put some money in my pocket and give me something to do all day
And VisiCalc begat AppleWriter and AppleWriter begat the first integrated Killer App for the Apple II, Appleworks (by Rupert Lisner, released in 1983))
Appleworks integrated a word processor, a database and a spreadsheet in such a way that they could all share data
In 1993 Randy Brandt developed Appleworks 4 (code named Quadriga) and in 1996 the last version of the 8 bit Apple II Appleworks, Appleworks 5 was released -- 3 years after the last Apple II computer was built.
The license for the name Appleworks ran out in 1996 and Apple renamed its (ugh) ClarisWorks to AppleWorks and it was a Mac only application.
I still have my copy of Appleworks 5 and while I don't use it often, I still fire up my Apple IIGS emulator once in a while and admire that simple and powerful software package.
The 20th anniversary of the Apple II Users convention, KFest, is convening this July at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri.
www.kfest.org for the nostalgic browsers among you