Bob Frankston Bio

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This page provides information about my professional background and interests.

I've been working with computers since 1963 and with online services since 1966. Though I'm proficient in the technologies, my interests are more focused on the applications of the technologies as well a wide range of other issues and concepts.


While in Junior High School sat in on a class for Hunter College faculty on how to program their new IBM 1620. It was taught by Mary Dolciani. (January 1963)

Stuyvesant High School (1963-1966)

Stuyvesant is one of the Science/Academic schools in New York City. Helped start the computer curriculum. Spent time at New York University's Courant Institute, where I gained experience on larger systems. There is a link back to this site on their Alumni page.

MIT (Undergrad 1967-1970, Grad 1970-1976)

Received BS Degrees in both Computer Science and Mathematics in 1970 and Masters and Engineers Degrees in Computer Science (and EE) in 1974. Did graduate work at Project MAC (renamed Laboratory for Computer Science and now CSAIL) where I was involved in the Multics project. My Master's Thesis was "The Computer Utility as a Marketplace for Computer-Based Services". One area of continuing interest is "federated" systems. These are loosely coupled systems and databases as opposed to the more rigid distributed systems. Also did research in the Clinical Decision Making Group.

Co-founded the Student Information Processing Board, which provided computer access to students.


1966-1979 Worked at White-Weld and Company in their computer research division, which later became Interactive Data Corporation, in various roles doing systems design and implementation. White-Weld was one of the earliest financial information services and used the Scientific Data Systems 940 to provide time-sharing services. Later, at IDC, developed tools on their own version of IBM's VM system. These projects included an interactive debugger and a VM-based mail system (predating Profs).
1977-1978 Consulted for ECD corporation in 1977 and developed a very extended Basic for their multiprocessor 6502-based system. ECD eventually learned the lessons of selling below cost and is no longer with us.
1979-1985 Founded Software Arts in 1979 with Dan Bricklin to develop and sell VisiCalc. VisiCalc was the first electronic spreadsheet program and remained a widely used program for personal computers for many years. (If you're interested in VisiCalc history, please send me mail.)
1985-1990 Lotus Development, where I created the Lotus Express product and a Fax facility for Lotus Notes.
1990-1992 Slate Corporation, working on mobile and pen-based systems. Slate focused on pen-based and mobile computing.
1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation, where I focused on the consumer use of computers, in particular, home networking. This effort played a central role in today's home networks and repurposing broadband service networks for Internet connectivity. This effort involved assuring that Windows as "Internet-ready" as well as addressing protocol, infrastructure and working with carriers on policy issues to create a coherent "just works" experience.
1998-present Member of CommonAngels concentrating on early and seed stage investements.

Awards & Honors


Click here.


I was born in 1949 in Brooklyn, New York.

The current Interactive Data Corporation site but it's a very different company from the version I worked for..

The Engineer's Degree is not as common in the United States as in Europe. It is a degree beyond the Master's but not quite a Ph.D. More information about MIT EECS degree's.

Bob Frankston Site