Mitchell Kapor

1996 Fellow

For his development of Lotus 1-2-3, a groundbreaking software application for the IBM PC.

Mitch Kapor was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1950. He received a B.A. in psychology from Yale University (1971) and an M.A. in psychology from Beacon College (1978).

Kapor founded Lotus Development Corporation in 1982 with Jonathan Sachs, co-creator 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 co-founded 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.


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