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A Brief History of Spreadsheets

Good Evening friends, we know how much effort we are putting for calculations, Report preparation, Creating charts etc etc. 
For above operations we are using Excel. Even if it is a support person in a company or a CEO he will use Excel Spreadsheets. That's the power of this
So where from the idea of spreadsheet came??? lot of guys know the present structure and advance of excel. But no one knows how it was born and how?.
In this post I'm not going to give you excel tips or tricks. But, will give you some wonderful informations about 'Evolution of Spreadsheets - A brief history of Spreadsheets'. Don't remember Darwin this is not related to the Human Evolution :)  But you can remember 'Dan Bricklin and Bob
Frankston'. Wondering ha???? yeah you are right these folks invented the Idea of Electronic SpreadSheet.

So readers Back to the PAST...........

A Brief History of Spreadsheets

Most people tend to take spreadsheet software for granted. In fact, it may be hard to fathom, but
there really was a time when electronic spreadsheets weren’t available. Back then, people relied
instead on clumsy mainframes or calculators and spent hours doing what now takes minutes.

It all started with VisiCalc

The world’s first electronic spreadsheet, VisiCalc, was conjured up by Dan Bricklin and Bob
Frankston back in 1978, when personal computers were pretty much unheard of in the office
environment. VisiCalc was written for the Apple II computer, which was an interesting little
machine that is something of a toy by today’s standards. (But in its day, the Apple II kept me
mesmerized for days at a time.) VisiCalc essentially laid the foundation for future spreadsheets,
and you can still find its row-and-column-based layout and formula syntax in modern spreadsheet
products. VisiCalc caught on quickly, and many forward-looking companies purchased the
Apple II for the sole purpose of developing their budgets with VisiCalc. Consequently, VisiCalc is
often credited for much of the Apple II’s initial success.
In the meantime, another class of personal computers was evolving; these PCs ran the CP/M
operating system. A company called Sorcim developed SuperCalc, which was a spreadsheet that
also attracted a legion of followers.
When the IBM PC arrived on the scene in 1981, legitimizing personal computers, VisiCorp wasted
no time porting VisiCalc to this new hardware environment, and Sorcim soon followed with a PC
version of SuperCalc.
By current standards, both VisiCalc and SuperCalc were extremely crude. For example, text
entered into a cell couldn’t extend beyond the cell — a lengthy title had to be entered into multiple
cells. Nevertheless, the ability to automate the budgeting tedium was enough to lure thousands
of accountants from paper ledger sheets to floppy disks.

You can download a copy of the original VisiCalc from Dan Bricklin’s Web site at www. And yes, nearly 30 years later, this 27K program still runs on today’s
PCs (see Figure 1-1).

Figure 1-1: VisiCalc, running in a DOS window on a PC running Windows XP.

Lotus 1-2-3

Envious of VisiCalc’s success, a small group of computer freaks at a start-up company in
Cambridge, Massachusetts, refined the spreadsheet concept. Headed by Mitch Kapor and
Jonathan Sachs, the company designed a new product and launched the software industry’s first
full-fledged marketing blitz. I remember seeing a large display ad for 1-2-3 in The Wall Street
Journal. It was the first time that I’d ever seen software advertised in a general interest publication.
Released in January 1983, Lotus Development Corporation’s 1-2-3 was an instant success. Despite
its $495 price tag (which is probably close to $1,000 in today’s dollars), it quickly outsold
VisiCalc, rocketing to the top of the sales charts, where it remained for many years.

What Lotus did right

Lotus 1-2-3 improved on all the basics embodied in VisiCalc and SuperCalc and was also the first
program to take advantage of the new and unique features found in the powerful 16-bit IBM PC
AT. For example, 1-2-3 bypassed the slower DOS calls and wrote text directly to display memory

giving it a snappy and responsive feel that was unusual for the time. The online help system was
a breakthrough, and the ingenious “moving bar” menu style set the standard for many years.
One feature that really set 1-2-3 apart, though, was its macro capability — a powerful tool that
enabled spreadsheet users to record their keystrokes to automate many procedures. When such
a macro was “played back,” the original keystrokes were sent to the application, and it was like a
super-fast typist was at the keyboard. Although a far cry from today’s macro capability, 1-2-3
macros were definitely a step in the right direction.
1-2-3 was not the first integrated package, but it was the first successful one. It combined (1) a
powerful electronic spreadsheet with (2) elementary graphics and (3) some limited but handy
database features. Easy as 1, 2, 3 — get it?
Lotus followed up the original 1-2-3 Release 1 with Release 1A in April 1983. This product enjoyed
tremendous success and put Lotus in the enviable position of virtually owning the spreadsheet
market. In September 1985, Release 1A was replaced by Release 2, which was a major upgrade
that was superseded by the bug-fixed Release 2.01 the following July. Release 2 introduced addins,
which are special-purpose programs that can be attached to give an application new features
and extend the application’s useful life. Release 2 also had improved memory management, more
functions, 8,192 rows (four times as many as its predecessor), and added support for a math
coprocessor. Release 2 also included some significant enhancements to the macro language.
Not surprisingly, the success of 1-2-3 spawned many clones — work-alike products that usually
offered a few additional features and sold at a much lower price. Among the more notable were
Paperback Software’s VP Planner series and Mosaic Software’s Twin. Lotus eventually took legal
action against Paperback Software for copyright infringement (for copying the “look and feel” of
1-2-3); the successful suit essentially put Paperback out of business.
In the summer of 1989, Lotus shipped DOS and OS/2 versions of the long-delayed 1-2-3 Release
3. This product literally added a dimension to the familiar row-and-column-based spreadsheet: It
extended the paradigm by adding multiple spreadsheet pages. The idea wasn’t really new, however;
a relatively obscure product called Boeing Calc originated the 3-D spreadsheet concept,
and SuperCalc 5 and CubeCalc also incorporated it.
1-2-3 Release 3 offered features that users wanted — features that ultimately became standard
fare: multilayered worksheets, the capability to work with multiple files simultaneously, file linking,
improved graphics, and direct access to external database files. But it still lacked an important
feature that users were begging for: a way to produce high-quality printed output.
Release 3 began life with a reduced market potential because it required an 80286-based PC and
a minimum of 1MB of RAM — fairly hefty requirements in 1989. But Lotus had an ace up its corporate
sleeve. Concurrent with the shipping of Release 3, the company surprised nearly everyone
by announcing an upgrade of Release 2.01. (The product materialized a few months later as 1-2-3
Release 2.2.) Release 3 was not a replacement for Release 2, as most analysts had expected.
Rather, Lotus made the brilliant move of splitting the spreadsheet market into two segments:
those with high-end hardware and those with more mundane equipment.

Too little, too late

1-2-3 Release 2.2 wasn’t a panacea for spreadsheet buffs, but it was a significant improvement.
The most important Release 2.2 feature was Allways, an add-in that gave users the ability to churn
out attractive reports, complete with multiple typefaces, borders, and shading. In addition, users
could view the results on-screen in a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) manner. Allways
didn’t, however, let users issue any worksheet commands while they viewed and formatted their
work in WYSIWYG mode. Despite this rather severe limitation, many 1-2-3 users were overjoyed
with this new capability because they could finally produce near-typeset-quality output.
In May 1990, Microsoft released Windows 3.0. As you probably know, Windows changed the way
that people used personal computers. Apparently, the decision-makers at Lotus weren’t convinced
that Windows was a significant product, and the company was slow getting out of the
gate with its first Windows spreadsheet, 1-2-3 for Windows, which wasn’t introduced until late
1991. Worse, this product was, in short, a dud. It didn’t really capitalize on the Windows environment
and disappointed many users. It also disappointed at least one book author. My very first
book was titled PC World 1-2-3 For Windows Complete Handbook (Wiley). I think it sold fewer
than 1,000 copies.
Serious competition from Lotus never materialized. Consequently, Excel, which had already
established itself as the premier Windows spreadsheet, became the overwhelming Windows
spreadsheet market leader and has never left that position. Lotus came back with 1-2-3 Release 4
for Windows in June 1993, which was a vast improvement over the original. Release 5 for
Windows appeared in mid-1994.
Also in mid-1994, Lotus unveiled 1-2-3 Release 4.0 for DOS. Many analysts (including myself)
expected a product more compatible with the Windows product. But we were wrong; DOS
Release 4.0 was simply an upgraded version of Release 3.4. Because of the widespread acceptance
of Windows, that was the last DOS version of 1-2-3 to see the light of day.
Over the years, spreadsheets became less important to Lotus. In mid-1995, IBM purchased Lotus
Development Corporation. Additional versions of 1-2-3 became available, but it seems to be a
case of too little, too late. The current version is Release 9.8. Excel clearly dominates the spreadsheet
market, and 1-2-3 users are an increasingly rare breed.

Quattro Pro

The other significant player in the spreadsheet world is (or, I should say, was) Borland
International. Borland started in spreadsheets in 1987 with a product called Quattro. Word has it
that the internal code name was Buddha because the program was intended to “assume the
Lotus position” in the market (that is, #1). Essentially a clone of 1-2-3, Quattro offered a few additional
features and an arguably better menu system at a much lower price. Importantly, users
could opt for a 1-2-3-like menu system that let them use familiar commands and also ensured
compatibility with 1-2-3 macros.
In the fall of 1989, Borland began shipping Quattro Pro, which was a more powerful product that
built upon the original Quattro and trumped 1-2-3 in just about every area. For example, the first
Quattro Pro let you work with multiple worksheets in movable and resizable windows — although
it did not have a graphical user interface (GUI). More trivia: Quattro Pro was based on an obscure
product called Surpass, which Borland acquired.
Released in late 1990, Quattro Pro Version 2.0 added 3-D graphs and a link to Borland’s Paradox
database. A mere six months later — much to the chagrin of Quattro Pro book authors — Version
3.0 appeared, featuring an optional graphical user interface and a slide show feature. In the
spring of 1992, Version 4 appeared with customizable SpeedBars and an innovative analytical
graphics feature. Version 5, which came out in 1994, had only one significant new feature: worksheet
notebooks (that is, 3-D worksheets).
Like Lotus, Borland was slow to jump on the Windows bandwagon. When Quattro Pro for
Windows finally shipped in the fall of 1992, however, it provided some tough competition for the
other two Windows spreadsheets, Excel 4.0 and 1-2-3 Release 1.1 for Windows. Importantly,
Quattro Pro for Windows had an innovative feature, known as the UI Builder, that let developers
and advanced users easily create custom user interfaces.
Also worth noting was a lawsuit between Lotus and Borland. Lotus won the suit, forcing Borland
to remove the 1-2-3 macro compatibility and 1-2-3 menu option from Quattro Pro. This ruling was
eventually overturned in late 1994, however, and Quattro Pro can now include 1-2-3 compatibility
features (as if anyone really cares). Both sides spent millions of dollars on this lengthy legal fight,
and when the dust cleared, no real winner emerged.
Borland followed up the original Quattro Pro for Windows with Version 5. In 1994, Novell purchased
WordPerfect International and Borland’s entire spreadsheet business, and Version 6 was
In 1996, WordPerfect and Quattro Pro were both purchased by Corel Corporation. As I write, the
current version of Quattro Pro is Version 14, which is part of WordPerfect Office X4.
There was a time when Quattro Pro seemed the ultimate solution for spreadsheet developers.
But then Excel 5 arrived

Microsoft Excel

And now on to the good stuff.
Most people don’t realize that Microsoft’s experience with spreadsheets extends back to the early
’80s. Over the years, Microsoft’s spreadsheet offerings have come a long way, from the barely
adequate MultiPlan to the powerful Excel 2010.
It started with MultiPlan
In 1982, Microsoft released its first spreadsheet, MultiPlan. Designed for computers running the
CP/M operating system, the product was subsequently ported to several other platforms, including
Apple II, Apple III, XENIX, and MS-DOS.
MultiPlan essentially ignored existing software user-interface standards. Difficult to learn and use,
it never earned much of a following in the United States. Not surprisingly, Lotus 1-2-3 pretty
much left MultiPlan in the dust.

Excel arrives

Excel sort of evolved from MultiPlan, first surfacing in 1985 on the Macintosh. Like all Mac applications,
Excel was a graphics-based program (unlike the character-based MultiPlan). In November
1987, Microsoft released the first version of Excel for Windows (labeled Excel 2.0 to correspond
with the Macintosh version). Because Windows wasn’t in widespread use at the time, this version
included a runtime version of Windows — a special version that had just enough features to run
Excel and nothing else. Less than a year later, Microsoft released Excel Version 2.1. In July 1990,
Microsoft released a minor upgrade (2.1d) that was compatible with Windows 3.0. Although
these 2.x versions were quite rudimentary by current standards (see Figure 1-2) and didn’t have
the attractive, sculpted look of later versions, they attracted a small but loyal group of supporters
and provided an excellent foundation for future development.
Excel’s first macro language also appeared in Version 2.The XLM macro language consisted of
functions that were evaluated in sequence. It was quite powerful, but very difficult to learn and
use. The XLM macro language was replaced by Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), which is the
topic of this book. However, Excel 2010 still supports XLM macros.
Meanwhile, Microsoft developed a version of Excel (numbered 2.20) for OS/2 Presentation
Manager, released in September 1989 and upgraded to Version 2.21 about 10 months later. OS/2
never quite caught on, despite continued efforts by IBM.
In December 1990, Microsoft released Excel 3 for Windows, which boasted a significant improvement
in both appearance and features (see Figure 1-3). The upgrade included a toolbar, drawing
capabilities, a powerful optimization feature (Solver), add-in support, Object Linking and
Embedding (OLE) support, 3-D charts, macro buttons, simplified file consolidation, workgroup
editing, and the ability to wrap text in a cell. Excel 3 also had the capability to work with external
databases (via the Q+E program). The OS/2 version upgrade appeared five months later

Version 4, released in the spring of 1992, not only was easier to use but also had more power and
sophistication for advanced users (see Figure 1-4). Excel 4 took top honors in virtually every
spreadsheet product comparison published in the trade magazines. In the meantime, the relationship
between Microsoft and IBM became increasingly strained, and Microsoft stopped making
versions of Excel for OS/2.
Version 4, released in the spring of 1992, not only was easier to use but also had more power and
sophistication for advanced users (see Figure 1-4). Excel 4 took top honors in virtually every
spreadsheet product comparison published in the trade magazines. In the meantime, the relationship
between Microsoft and IBM became increasingly strained, and Microsoft stopped making
versions of Excel for OS/2.

VBA is born

Excel 5 hit the streets in early 1994 and immediately earned rave reviews. Like its predecessor, it
finished at the top of every spreadsheet comparison published in the leading trade magazines.
Despite stiff competition from 1-2-3 Release 5 for Windows and Quattro Pro for Windows 5 —
both were fine products that could handle just about any spreadsheet task thrown their way —
Excel 5 continued to rule the roost. This version, by the way, was the first to feature VBA.
Excel 95 (also known as Excel 7) was released concurrently with Microsoft Windows 95.
(Microsoft skipped over Version 6 to make the version numbers consistent across its Office products.)
On the surface, Excel 95 didn’t appear to be much different from Excel 5. Much of the core
code was rewritten, however, and speed improvements were apparent in many areas.
Importantly, Excel 95 used the same file format as Excel 5, which is the first time that an Excel
upgrade didn’t use a new file format. This compatibility wasn’t perfect, however, because Excel
95 included a few enhancements in the VBA language. Consequently, it was possible to develop
an application using Excel 95 that would load but not run properly in Excel 5.

In early 1997, Microsoft released Office 97, which included Excel 97. Excel 97 is also known as
Excel 8. This version included dozens of general enhancements plus a completely new interface
for developing VBA-based applications. In addition, the product offered a new way of developing
custom dialog boxes (called UserForms rather than dialog sheets). Microsoft tried to make Excel
97 compatible with previous versions, but the compatibility was far from perfect. Many applications
that were developed using Excel 5 or Excel 95 required some tweaking before they would
work with Excel 97 or later versions.

Excel 2000 was released in early 1999 and was also sold as part of Office 2000. The enhancements
in Excel 2000 dealt primarily with Internet capabilities, although a few significant changes
were apparent in the area of programming.
Excel 2002 (sometimes known as Excel XP) hit the market in mid-2001. Like its predecessor, it
didn’t offer many significant new features. Rather, it incorporated a number of minor new features
and several refinements of existing features. Perhaps the most compelling new feature was
the ability to repair damaged files and save your work when Excel crashed.
Excel 2003 (released in fall 2003) was perhaps the most disappointing upgrade ever. This version
had very few new features. Microsoft touted the ability to import and export eXtensible
Markup Language (XML) files and map the data to specific cells in a worksheet — but very few
users actually needed such a feature. In addition, Microsoft introduced some “rights management”
features that let you place restrictions on various parts of a workbook (for example, allow
only certain users to view a particular worksheet). In addition, Excel 2003 had a new Help system
(which put the Help contents in the task pane) and a new “research” feature that lets you look up
a variety of information in the task pane. (Some of these required a fee-based account.)

A new user interface

Excel 2007 (Version 12) became available in late 2006 and was part of the Microsoft 2007 Office
System. In terms of user interface, this upgrade was clearly the most significant ever. A new
Ribbon UI replaced menus and toolbars. In addition, the Excel 2007 grid size is 1,000 times larger
than in previous versions, and the product uses a new open XML file format. Other improvements
include improved tables, conditional formatting enhancements, major cosmetic enhancements
for charts, and document themes.

Reaction to the new UI was mixed. Some users loved it, others hated it. Several companies even
created add-ins that allowed Excel 2007 users to revert to the old menu system. Clearly, Excel
2007 is easier for beginners, but long-time users may spend a lot of time wondering where to
find their old commands.
The current version, Excel 2010, is part of Microsoft 2010 Office System. Apparently, the decisionmakers
at Microsoft are a bit superstitious. They skipped Version 13, and went straight to Version 14.
Excel 2010 features enhancements in pivot tables, conditional formatting, and image editing. The
product now supports in-cell charts called sparklines and the ability to preview pasting before
committing to it. A new backstage feature is devoted to document-related tasks, such as saving
and printing. In addition, end users can now customize the Ribbon. And finally, dozens of new
worksheet functions are available — mostly highly specialized functions that replace old functions
that had some accuracy problems.

Current Competition

So there you have it: More than three decades of spreadsheet history condensed into a few
pages. It has been an interesting ride, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have been involved with
spreadsheets the entire time.
Things have changed. Microsoft not only dominates the spreadsheet market, it virtually owns it.
What little competition exists is primarily in the form of free open-source products, such as
OpenOffice and StarOffice. Increasingly, you hear about Web-based spreadsheets, such as
Google Spreadsheets (see Figure 1-5). Microsoft has responded, and now has its own Web-based
version of Excel and other Office 2010 applications.
In the final analysis, Microsoft’s biggest competitor is probably itself. Users tend to settle on a
particular version of Excel, and if things are working well, they have very little motivation to
upgrade. Convincing users to upgrade to a new version that provides only a few advantages is
one of Microsoft’s biggest challenges.

So Guys I think I have give the evolution of SpreadSheets, In My next article will discuss about
Why Excel Is Great for Developer's........:)

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Reference : Wikipedia, Excel Power Programming.

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