VisiCalc was announced to the public at the National Computer Conference in New York City in June of 1979.
Bob Frankston delivered a paper at the personal computer part of the conference (a small event in a hotel near the main show floor) describing the new program he had just written. In hindsight it was a great paper (I'll post it when I can find a hard copy to scan...). However, it wasn't the well received announcement you might expect. Lots of our relatives and our publishers attended. Almost nobody else cared. There were 20 friends and family and 2 "real" attendees, but as Bob recalls the two people we didn't know walked out early probably because it wasn't like the talk about the undocumented opcodes of the TI-59 calculator (a hot topic in those days). Afterwards we went to a kosher restaurant nearby to celebrate. At that conference Bob and I met Bill Gates and Ben Rosen for the first time. Bill was a young kid best known for his version of BASIC and speeding tickets. Ben was still an electronics analyst at Morgan Stanley and at whose conference a couple of months before VisiCalc was shown privately by Dan Fylstra our publisher. I graduated Harvard Business School a couple of days after Bob's talk.
The New York Times ran a humorous article about the tradeshow: "A Layman's Trip into the Mega-Mega Land of Computers" by Francis X. Clines. Seeing a sign with a funny name being made for the Personal Software, Inc., booth (our publisher) he wrote:
Even as the believers gather, the painters in the Coliseum sign room are adding to the pantheon, carefully lettering "VISICALC" in giant black on yellow. All hail VISICALC."
I found an old picture of part of the article:
Humorous New York Times article from June 1979
It looked like Mr. Clines didn't fully understand what he was writing about, but we sure appreciated the quote. Interest in what it did, i.e., being an electronic spreadsheet, was low. VisiCalc didn't appear in a major newspaper or business magazine for many months after that first mention. Technology often takes a while to be appreciated and catch on. Many business people who saw our demo in the booth, though, were enthusiastic.