A spreadsheet is a grid that organizes data into columns and rows. Spreadsheets make it easy to display information, and people can insert formulas to work with the data. For example, there is a particular icon that has a formula to sum up numbers that are given. This icon is called auto sum. Information can also be sorted and filtered.

People use spreadsheet programs to learn about different kinds of things, and to make decisions. Spreadsheets are based on different varieties of subjects.

Interesting comparison

A spreadsheet is the computer equivalent of a paper ledger sheet. It consists of a grid made from columns and rows.

Precursors to spreadsheet

Abacus

The earliest counting device was the human hand and its fingers. Then, as larger quantities (larger than ten human-fingers could represent) were counted, various natural items like pebbles and twigs were used to help count. Merchants who traded goods not only needed a way to count goods they bought and sold, but also to calculate the cost of those goods. Until numbers were invented, counting devices were used to make everyday calculations. The abacus is one of many counting devices invented to help count large numbers.

A Brief History of the Abacus

Reducing multiplication and division to addition and subtraction

Logarithms (or logs, as they are known in short) were invented by the Scottish mathematician and theologian John Napier and first published in 1614. He was looking for a way of quickly solving multiplication and division problems . . . using the much faster methods of addition and subtraction.

Introduction to the Slide Rule

A logarithmic digression

From logs to slide rules

Visualizing logs

The next step in the evolution of the slide rule was really an exercise in visualization. It is hard to get a feel for what the log of any given number will be, exactly, without looking it up in the standard reference tables. But what if instead you drew them down to give you a rough idea of where things lay? This is exactly what the English astronomer Edmund Gunter came up with in 1620. He drew a 2 foot long line with the whole numbers spaced at intervals proportionate to their respective log values (see image below, taken from HP's slide rule site ).

We are now just a short jump away from the first real slide rule, developed by the Reverend William Oughtred a short time later. He placed two Gunter's scales directly opposite each other, and demonstrated that you could do calculations by simply sliding them back and forth (see the second image below). As such, Oughtred is generally considered to be the inventor of the slide rule

Introduction to the Slide Rule

Add Adding Machines!

Slide Adding Machines (“Addiators”)

Rotary Adding Machines

Pin-Wheel Calculators

Key-Driven Calculators (“Comptometers”)

Printing Calculators (“Add-list machines”)

Full-Keyboard Rotary Calculators

Full-Function Calculators

Full-Function Ten-key Calculators

Miniature Full-Function Calculators

This list is from John Wolff's Web Museum: Calculating Machines

Other sites:

See also Calculating Machines

Disadvantages of non-electronic

Disadvantage of using nonelectronic spreadsheets

It’s very easy to smash your fingers on the abacus.

It's virtually impossible to e-mail an abacus.

No customer support for the abacus since MCIV. [That’s 1104 AD, in case you’re wondering!]

Abacus formatting is rudimentary at best.

Pivot tables are a real pain on an abacus, and don’t get me started on Visual Basic for Abacus. Buggy!

PC Review Forums : Newsgroups : Microsoft Excel Microsoft Excel Misc : Disadvantage of using nonelectronic spreadsheets

Real Spread Sheets!

Where does the term come from ?

In the realm of accounting jargon a “spread sheet” or spreadsheet was and is a large sheet of paper with columns and rows that organizes data about transactions for a business person to examine. It spreads or shows all of the costs, income, taxes, and other related data on a single sheet of paper for a manager to examine when making a decision.

A Brief History of Spreadsheets by by D. J. Power, Editor, DSSResources.COM

Who applied it to computers?

Robert Frankston, co-inventor of the first electronic spreadsheet:

The goal was to give the user a conceptual model which was unsurprising -- it was called the principle of least surprise. We were illusionists synthesizing an experience. Our model was the spreadsheet -- a simple paper grid that would be laid out on a table. The paper grid provided an organizing metaphor for a working with series of numbers.

Implementing VisiCalc

See also Dan Bricklin’s Software Arts and VisiCalc and Spreadsheet : Its First Computerization (1961-1964 ) by Richard Mattessich

How it worked

Bob Frankston:

While there are many complicated aspects of implementing the VisiCalc program, the basic idea is quite simple. A spreadsheet program is a computerized version of the traditional accountant’s ledger sheet, with added “intelligence” in the form of mathematical or logical relationships between entries or “cells” so that changes in one entry can cause other entries to change accordingly. One of the fundamental mechanisms in any spreadsheet program is the ability to remember the calculation rule for each cell in the sheet. For example, once the user enters a formula, the program is able to remember how to recalculate that cell whenever a value changes.

How a Spreadsheet Program Works from the Atari Archives

The successor to Visicalc

Jan. 26, 1983: Spreadsheet as Easy as 1-2-3

Lotus Development Corporation begins selling its spreadsheet application for Microsoft DOS, called 1-2-3.

[Its] built-in charting and graphing capabilities, plus its support for macros, helped it in short order to begin outselling VisiCalc. Lotus sold $53 million of the software in the company's first year of existence, and 1-2-3 quickly came to dominate the business software market in the mid and late 1980s.

And it’s still around!

But 1-2-3 is not the market leader?

Why not?

1-2-3’s reign lasted nearly five years, dwindling only when the company failed to make the transition from DOS to the increasingly Windows-centric world of the late 1980s and early 1990s. By comparison, Microsoft Excel was much easier to learn than the forbiddingly austere, black-and-green text screen of Lotus’ product, and by 1989 Excel had started to outsell 1-2-3.

Jan. 26, 1983: Spreadsheet as Easy as 1-2-3

Excel 2.0: first spreadsheet for Windows launched 1987 25th anniversary of computer spreadsheets (October 2004)

A review of Excel 2.0

Excel Extraordinaire

Microsoft’s Macintosh spreadsheet shines on the IBM AT, but is it fast enough?

The new Excel for IBM systems, officially called Excel 2.0 ($495), follows the original Macintosh version by about 2 years. On either the Macintosh or the AT, Excel is the paragon of bells and whistles. It does so many things, in so many different ways, that it tempts you to spend countless hours merely exploring.

The only things I might fault in Excel are the less-than-stunning recalculation speeds and the mouse support. But in view of the power and flexibility provided by the program, these criticisms seem empty.

Reprinted from Byte, issue 3/1988, pp. 155-157

Highlights in Excel evolution

Excel 3 – 1990

This version offered a significant improvement in both appearance and features. It included toolbars, drawing capabilities, worksheet outlining, add-in support, 3-D charts, workgroup editing, and lots more.

Excel 5 – 1994

This version introduced tons of new features, including multisheet workbooks and the new Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) macro language.

Excel 97 – 1997

Excel 97 is also known as Excel 8. It is probably offered the most significant upgrade ever. The toolbars and menus took on a great new look, online help moved a dramatic step forward, and the number of rows available in a worksheet quadrupled.

Microsoft Skip version 13th in Excel | Excel Versions History

Further highlights

Excel 2002 – 2001

Excel 2002 is also known as Excel 10 or Excel XP. It was released in June of 2001 and is part of Microsoft Office XP. This version offered several new features, most of which are fairly minor and were designed to appeal to novice users. Perhaps the most significant new feature was the capability to save your work when Excel crashes and also recover corrupt workbook files that you may have abandoned long ago. Excel 2002 also added background formula error checking and a new formula-debugging tool.

Excel 2007 – 2007

Also known as Excel 12, Excel 2007 was released in early 2007. Its official name is Microsoft Office Excel 2007. This release represented the most significant change since Excel 97, including a change to Excel’s default file format.

Microsoft Skip version 13th in Excel | Excel Versions History

Current version

Excel 2010

Excel 2010, was released in early 2010 and is also known as Excel 14. If you think you’ve spotted a typo in the previous sentence, you’re wrong. Yes, even big companies can be superstitious; Microsoft skipped Version 13 of Office and went from Version 12 to Version 14. Excel 2010 builds on the improvements introduced in Excel 2007, and it offers several new enhancements.

Microsoft Skip version 13th in Excel | Excel Versions History

Excel 2007 vs. Excel 2010 QAT= Quick Access Toolbar 10 Supercool UI Improvements in Excel 2010 Bye bye Office button, welcome back “File” menu

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