Priceless Source Code (Well To Me Anyway) - Trapeze

November 27, 2011

Torx screwdriver 6$.

Fedex $30.

Guy who recovers data from old hard drives $100.

Source code to Trapeze (my spreadsheet app from the late 80's), priceless.

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TV: My Computer Chronicles TV Demo of Trapeze Alongside Excel. BTW the first time a Mac color display was seen in a public forum (preproduction from Apple).

Trapeze was not just another row and column spreadsheet clone. It was unique in that it was based on named relationships between blocks of cells instead of relationships between cells in a grid. The blocks were fully moveable and the appearance had nothing to do with the calculations so making mistakes was eliminated. You could build and format the data, charts, text and graphics and freely rearrange things with no fear of screwing the calculations.

For example, a column block called "interest rate" and a row block called "mortgage" could be referenced in a block with a formula "pmt(interest rate/12,360,mortgage)" and you would get a table of payments sized to be columns X rows. Add another rate and the table resized itself. Just a simple example but it lead to people making really powerful applications not possible in any other spreadsheet.

Think of Trapeze as a combo of a spreadsheet, APL and Mathematica, all mixed together by aliens in Roswell, New Mexico. Or Fort Worth, Texas (but don't tell the aliens).

Trapeze only sold about 13,000 copies in the 2 years it lived, but I still get emails from people who tell me it was the best application they ever used. I know people who still keep antique Macs around just so they can run Trapeze. People have often begged me to write a new one.

But ... it wasn't Excel and you couldn't compete with that with something so radical so the last build was in 1989 while we were building Deltagraph 1.0.

The source has been around (one of the Deltagraph coders kept it) but the computer it lived on is mostly dead so this is the last opportunity to recover it. It's ancient history written in C. It could never run from that source code on a modern Mac (there is a 68K static library with no source code) and it's MacOS System 5 I think.

It is like losing an old friend and getting them back after 22 years.