The History Of Spreadsheets – Part 1

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The term Spreadsheet

Spreadsheet is a computer application that has replaced paper worksheets in the late 1970’s. It is a multi-celled document that comprises of rows and columns. Hence, forming a grid where each cell may contain either numeric or alpha-numeric values. The cells may as an alternate comprise of formulas which interprets how the content of the particular cell is to be calculated every time with that of another wherever updated. These are considered as a powerful tool that helped legitimize the PC’s (Personal Computers) for business use in 1980’s. Since then, they paved the way for software revolution that has unfolded explosively. Today, these are an integral part of the economy as 99% of the businesses rely on them in some way or the other. These are being utilized for several reasons that covers different aspects of accounting and mathematics, including budgeting, financial analysis, charting/graphing and various scientific applications. The program also helps in managing the data in distinctive formats. Majority of the population across the globe today have at least some experience with this software if they have worked on computer for ones.

Prior to the launch of electronic version of spreadsheets, business persons relied upon spreadsheet that was a large sheet of paper like a ledger book with rows and columns. These were aimed to be utilized to spread over data manually either using a pen or pencil.

Spreadsheets are in use for years by businesses as the data gathered and represented in one place shows a bigger picture which makes decision making process quick and simple.

The beginning

LANPAR was the first electronic spreadsheet that entered the market with an aim to replace the paper-based spreadsheets. Sadly this failed as in the early 1970’s, it was not easy for the public at large to reach bulky and pricey computers. Following the years in the late 1970’s, the launch of VisiCalc (visible calculator) took place that became successful as the personal computers were introduced to the market. Hence, it became the first ever electronic spreadsheet utilized by local public.

Following the growth in the electronic spreadsheet market, the next launch was Lotus 1-2-3 by Mitch Kapor. This was an advancement as it included plotting, charting and database capabilities. It was developed as a data representation package along with an effective calculation tool. Microsoft Excel was the next in the history of spreadsheet. It was the first to introduce the use of graphical interface with drop down menus and the ability to click and point using the mouse, making it’s use easier for people. In 1984-1985, this software application was written for Apple Macintosh, a flagship product of Microsoft. The application during the past two decades has successfully achieved the superior position over the other launches.

What’s new?

Without any iota of doubts, spreadsheets that started off with basic arithmetic utilities have become an essential part of businesses. The advancements including pivot tables, charting, editing of images, etc. have become way too noticeable. Although seems way too simple to work on it, the data gathered and represented is not a one person task. Instead requires more than 1 person to deal with a spreadsheet. Hence, it is reflected as a challenging task.

In order to add convenience to the use of spreadsheets, the efforts have been pioneered by Google Sheets (an independent platform and free of cost web-based software). Such spreadsheets are managed online but also allows working when offline.

The innovations in the web-based spreadsheets is today’s happening!

To be continued…