Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
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7. The Big Grid and File Formats
7. The Big Grid and File Formats
Word leaked out in 2004 that Microsoft would be increasing the number of rows
in the 2007 version of Excel. Although at that time no one knew exactly how
many rows, one thing was certain the Excel file format would have to change.
The old XLS file format was designed around cell addressing that would fit in
a 2 16 address space, hence the limit of 65,536 rows.
Excel Grid Limits
The new grid in Excel offers 1,048,576 rows that is, 2 20 rows a sixteen-fold
increase from 65,536 rows in Excel 2003. It offers 16,384 columns (that is, 2 14
columns), an increase from 256 columns in Excel 2003. Overall, the new grid
provides for 17.1 billion cells on each worksheet.
You can now analyze more complex data sets. For example, if you regularly
analyze 2,000 items per month, you can analyze 2.5 years of monthly data in
one Excel 2003 worksheet. In Excel 2013, you can analyze 10 years of weekly
data or 43 years of monthly data. Columnwise, legacy versions of Excel
could handle only 9 months of daily data going across the worksheet. Excel
2013 can handle 45 years of daily dates or 63 years of weekdays.
It is interesting to compare the size increase in the history of spreadsheets.
You will see that the size increase is unprecedented. Here is a brief history
of spreadsheets:
In October 1979, VisiCalc debuted with 255 rows and 63 columns.
In 1983, Lotus 1-2-3 debuted with 8,192 rows and 256 columns. The 2
million cells per worksheet in this version was a 13,000% increase
over VisiCalc.
In 1987, early versions of Excel offered 16,384 rows by 255 columns.
This 4 million cells was double the amount offered in Lotus 1-2-3 re-
lease 2.2.
In Excel 97, Microsoft increased Excel to offer 65,536 rows by 255
columns. This 16.7 million cells per spreadsheet was quadruple the
previous limit.
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