Spreadsheet . How it changed the World?

The brief History of the Spreadsheet .

We have mentioned that at the beginning of the Boom of the microcomputers, many professionals of different areas: engineering, administration, physicists, mathematicians, financiers, etc. focused on the increase of productivity and automation and accuracy of his calculations by making use of the extremely innovative equipments, so were given the task of developing their own programs especially in BASIC. That was the programming language most accessible at that time, when the word: Spreadsheet , had not any special meaning.

In 1979, two brilliant graduates of Harvard: Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston forever changed the concept to develop the first spreadsheet: Visicalc

This program was developed in the most popular of the computers of the era, the Apple II was baptized thus by Bricklin and Frankston as simplification of terms: Visual Calculator and was the first application of productivity used in a personal computer not linked to the processing of words.

After its popularity, many companies developed and enriched the concept thus: Lotus 123, Multiplan, Multicalc, Supercalc, and other lesser known.

The concept of the Spreadsheet is based on the use of a sheet divided into columns and rows marked with letters and numbers, respectively, so that each box or cell of the sheet has a unique location for the type, for example, B18, (column B, row 18) that can host any content: text, numbers or formulas and which can interact with the rest of the cells in the planned form by the user or developer of the sheet.

The simplest example is reflected in the following figures:


In this example, we have placed the label NUMBER X in the box A1, the label NUMBER Y in the box B1, the label SUM X+ Y in box C1. Let us say that those are the headings of the columns in the table.

EXCEL2 spreadsheet

Then, in the box C2 write a formula of the type: A2 + B2, which indicates that C2 will show always the sum of the values that we put in A2 and B2

EXCEL3 spreadsheet

And finally, to set the desired values: 4 in A2 and 8 in B2, and accept such inputs, shows the value of the formula already executed in C2.

Easy, right?

This concept became repetitive calculations in child’s play, and I self to forget the tedious (but exciting) elaboration of programs that execute repetitive calculations with different variables. The answer to the question than to sweat to the Accountants of large chains of operations in the various fields: engineering, finance, statistics, etc.: and… What if…? It became easy and allowed, since then and forever, the evaluation of scenarios without limitations.

So that for better understand the potential of electronic sheets of calculation, and without wishing to underestimate to Visicalc, whose concept remains unchanged, we want to let know you that through all these years have come on the market of Software continuous improvement of these sheets and have joined functions which, practically, make this type of program essential to exploit the potential of computers in any area of knowledge.

Then we’ll list the most important characteristics that have Spreadsheet existing today.

From the point of view of shape or appearance and for the purposes of presentation of the calculations, reports, etc., the most important are:

  • Variable dimensions at will of the user of the dimensions (high and wide) of columns and rows, and therefore of all cells.
  • Possibility to use ANY kind, variety, color, size, alignment and format of letters and numbers.
  • And finally, almost all functions for texts that have word processors.

From the point of view of the calculation tool as such, the most important features are:

  • Possibility of working with ALMOST ALL the formulas used by man, including: trigonometry, logarithms, statistical calculations, logical functions, text functions, probability, financial Formulas, engineering, time and date, anyway, its calculation capabilities are virtually unlimited.
  • Planning calculations in sequence through MACROS, which are nothing more than the programming of actions in the spreadsheet of form pre-programmed by user.
  • Possibility of working with electronic books of calculation, i.e., with sheets that can be linked between them.

And finally, and as an element that places them at the top of their additional possibilities of use, the integration of productivity features:

  • Development of graphics of all kinds: bars, lines, Areas, Dispersion, etc. with the capture of the data of the own sheet.
  • Design and management of configurable data Bases and with a very powerful scheme of filters, which are also linked with external databases on the same platform.

According to the volume of users that use them, Spreadsheets more important today are:spreadsheets

  • Microsoft Excel
  • OpenOffice Calc
  • Apple Numbers
  • Google Sheets












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Author: aotanod@gmail.com

Graduated as Electrical Engineer in 1978, He has passed for a very rich professional experience including Managing of Engineering and Construction Projects, Technical Direction in the Soft drink Industry, Professional facilitator on different themes with some Books written. He define himself as a very happy man with a family who loves hugely and that make he feels very proud. Nowadays, he is living in Southwest Florida and dedicated, principally, to write about his experiences and learnings. Lover of Dogs, and with great experience in its breeding, training, presentation in dog shows and investigator about the origins of the breeds. He enjoys fishing, and loves cooking and baking specialty dishes for his family.

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