Mitch Kapor was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1950. He received a BA in psychology from Yale University (1971) and an MA in psychology from Beacon College (1978).
Kapor founded Lotus Development Corporation in 1982 with Jonathan Sachs, cocreator of Lotus 1-2-3. Released in January 1983, Lotus 1-2-3 was the first "killer app" for the IBM personal computer (PC). It combined a spreadsheet, charting and graphing, and rudimentary database operations into one application. Used primarily for its spreadsheet function, it was the leading program of its type for dos-based personal computers for several years, outselling VisiCalc by a significant margin.
Lotus 1-2-3 also became a benchmark, along with Microsoft Flight Simulator, for checking that an IBM "clone" was 100 percent hardware-compatible. Lotus 1-2-3 was eventually surpassed by Excel, the Microsoft Windows-based program.
In 1990, with fellow digital rights activists John Perry Barlow and John Gilmore, he cofounded the Electronic Frontier Foundation and served as its chairman until 1994. Kapor has been involved in a number of successful start-ups and was the first chairman of the Mozilla Foundation. He has also served as an adjunct/visiting professor at MIT and has written and lectured widely on technology and society.