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On a recent web wandering, I came across the official site for Visicalc. Visicalc was the first (or at least one of the very early) spreadsheet programs. From the above site, you can download a working copy of the program that will run in an MS DOS process under Windows.

Running that program brought back memories of using Visicalc on an Apple II (however, I probably actually ended up using Lotus 123 on a PC more often). I am not sure how much memory the Apple had (perhaps 32K), but it was a high spec model with not one, but two, floppy drives, and an 80 column card (compared to the normal 40). I remember briefly having access to a model with a 20-megabyte (yes MB) external hard drive, and being astounded at its speed and capacity.
[For younger readers an 80-column card allowed the display to show 80 characters by 24 lines of text instead of the usual 40 characters. Such characters were usually displayed on a green monitor (green characters on a black background).]

What is incredible is how small the program is. At just 27 kilobytes, the entire program is barely bigger than an empty Excel spreadsheet, yet the basic functionality of a spreadsheet is exactly as it is today.

As incredible as the program was then, I am very grateful for the power and ease of Excel. Indeed I am far more forgiving of Excel compared to, say, PowerPoint.

Ahh, nostalgia, like computers, it just ain’t what it used to be.

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