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Chapter 1: Excel 2010: Where It Came From
1
Excel 2010: Where It
Came From
In This Chapter
Exploring the history of spreadsheets
Discussing Excel’s evolution
Analyzing why Excel is a good tool for developers
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.
 
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