12.1. The VisiCalc Story
I have a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering/Computer Science from MIT, class of 1973. In 1970, I met Bob Frankston, then a recent MIT graduate, when we both worked on MIT's Multics project. Multics was a ground-breaking operating system that was a precursor to UNIX and other systems. (The Multics project included hundreds of people.) I worked on parts of the user interface (the command system) and the computer languages for applications programmers (APL and LISP). Bob worked on various systems and also had a programming job at Interactive Data Corporation, a large computer timesharing firm catering to the financial industry, and did consulting. He soon thereafter started graduate school at MIT.
After MIT, I worked as a product developer and programmer at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) on computerized typesetting and word processing. Those were the early days of computer-screen-based word processing. (The plain electric typewriter was king at the time.) After DEC, I worked on microprocessor-controlled cash registers for the fast-food industry. Finally, in 1977, I entered the Harvard Business School (HBS) to study for an MBA. I studied accounting, finance, marketing, production planning, logistics, business law, personnel policy, and more.
HBS teaches by the case method. The students prepare for a class by reading a "case" that comes as dozens of pages of prose and figures describing a business ...