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Dan is on TED.com

At TEDxBeaconStreet, we are innovators.

Our organization is unique for a TEDx group; our Speaker Catalysts and Adventures are unique to our community. And we’ve hosted dozens of innovators: from Marco Tempest’s illusions to Ramesh Raskar’s decision matrix, our Speakers are making a definite impact on the world.

But Dan Bricklin definitely stands apart.

Dan is one of the inventors of VisiCalc, the very first software spreadsheet program for computers. Prior to Dan’s invention, taxes, payrolls, and other complicated formulas were done by hand or by number punch-cards.

We think of these things as automatic today; how many of us know the formulas that power TurboTax or Quickbooks? We trust Microsoft Excel and other formula-based programs to do the work for us, and don’t realize how much time we’ve been saved.

During his time at Harvard Business School, while he was working out formulas by hand, Dan thought there must be an easier way to solve the problems he was given in class. He experimented with grid systems and formulas that referred to places in the grid, where he could put any numbers he wanted to.

And VisiCalc was born. Dan and his co-inventor Bob Frankston, who also spoke on our stage, created a software program that would change computing forever.

Think of experiments in labs, where micro-milliliter differences in chemical compositions are analyzed and compared. Think of hedge funds that manage millions of dollars in assets, whose exact value fluctuates constantly with the stock market. Think of census figures that take into account not only constantly evolving populations but also margins of error and other statistical anomalies. All of these things rely on software that was build on Dan and Bob’s idea.

We are incredibly proud of Dan and Bob, and for all our community for supporting them and appreciating their contribution to our modern world. We are thrilled to announce that Dan’s talk is now on TED.com, where we can celebrate an innovative leap forward!