For advancing the utility of personal computers by developing the VisiCalc electronic spreadsheet.
Bob Frankston was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1949. He received S.B. degrees in both computer science and mathematics (1970) and master's and engineers degrees in computer science (1974), all from MIT.
In 1979, Frankston founded Software Arts with friend and Harvard MBA student Dan Bricklin to develop and sell VisiCalc, the first electronic spreadsheet program for personal computers. VisiCalc was first available for the Apple ii personal computer, which significantly drove Apple ii sales. It became a blockbuster product and remained a widely used program for personal computers for many years. After VisiCalc was purchased by Lotus Development, it evolved into Lotus 1-2-3.
From 1985 to 1990, Frankston worked at Lotus Development, where he created the Lotus Express product and a fax facility for Lotus Notes. At Slate Corporation, (1990 to 1992), Frankston worked on mobile and pen-based systems. At Microsoft (1993 to 1998), he focused on the consumer use of computers, in particular, home networking, and the idea of wireless networking.
Since 1988, he has been an angel investor providing early-stage financing for technology start-ups.
Frankston is a Fellow of the IEEE and ACM and holds the ACM Software System Award (1985).