VisiCalc was the first spreadsheet program available for personal computers. It is often considered the application that turned the microcomputer from a hobby for computer enthusiasts into a serious business tool. VisiCalc sold over 700,000 copies in six years.
Conceived by Dan Bricklin, refined by Bob Frankston, developed by their company Software Arts, and distributed by Personal Software in 1979 (later named VisiCorp) for the Apple II computer, it propelled the Apple from being a hobbyist's toy to being a much-desired, useful financial tool for business. At the time, most microcomputers suffered from lack of storage space and display limitations that made them poor competitors in the word processing and database markets. The spreadsheet, however, did not depend on powerful displays or storage media, and so was an ideal fit for microcomputer technology available at the time. This likely motivated IBM to enter the PC market which they had been ignoring until then. After the Apple II version, VisiCalc was also released for the Atari 8-bit family, the Commodore PET, TRS-80, and the IBM PC.
According to Bricklin, he was watching his university professor at Harvard Business School create a financial model on a blackboard. When the professor found an error or wanted to change a parameter, he had to tediously erase and rewrite a number of sequential entries in the table, triggering Bricklin to realize that he could replicate the process on a computer using an "electronic spreadsheet" to view results of underlying formulae.