Interesting Facts About Spreadsheets

Written by noel shankel
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Interesting Facts About Spreadsheets
Spreadsheets allow you to keep an eye on the numbers that matter. (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Numbers are a gigantic part of our daily lives, especially numbers that indicate business revenue, budgets and equations. The spreadsheet acts as a way to organise these numbers, allowing you to grasp what they mean in regards to your business or your everyday life. Spreadsheets have been used for generations; however, the computerised spreadsheet is a rather recent development.

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Early History

Spreadsheets are used to organise numerical data about a specific topic. This data is placed into rows and columns. A spreadsheet can be hand written on paper, or created with a computer program. According to Decision Support System Resources, a technology knowledge repository, Dan Bricklin is considered the father of the electronic spreadsheet. General Motors, AT&T, Bell Canada and other Bell operating companies used an electronic spreadsheet known as Language for Programming Arrays at Random. The LANPAR electronic spreadsheet was invented by Rene Pardo and Remy Landau in 1969, but it wasn't officially patented in the United States until 1982.

VisiCalc and Lotus

Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston -- his acquaintance from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- started developing an electronic spreadsheet known as VisiCalc in the fall of 1978. An early draft of the program allowed users to manipulate and store data using 20 rows and five columns. The associate editor of Byte Magazine -- Daniel Fylstra -- helped Bricklin and Frankston further develop the VisiCalc program. Fylstra convinced Bricklin and Frankston to make VisCalc operational on a personal computer. During the early 1980s, Mitch Kapor introduced his Lotus spreadsheet program, which soon became the industry standard. The Lotus program made a profit of £101 million in 1984 and by 1985 VisiCalc was discontinued.

Time to Excel

Microsoft altered the world of spreadsheet programs when it introduced Excel in 1984. The program was initially designed to work on the 512K Apple Macintosh and featured a graphical interface, mouse-driven point and click capabilities, and pull-down menus. Excel was made available for the Windows operating system in 1987. Since its introduction, there have been 14 versions of the Excel program as of 2011. Excel can be installed on both Mac and Windows.


Although spreadsheets were first introduced as a business tool for accountants they have since developed and are now used in classrooms as a teaching tool. Spreadsheets have multiple ways of displaying the data and information they store. For example, the information can be displayed as a graph, as a pie chart or as a bar graph. Spreadsheets can be used to diagnose surveys, election results and math equations.

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