Getting To Know Spreadsheet

What is spreadsheet?

A spreadsheet or worksheet is a tool used whenever you need to perform calculations. These calculations can involve mathematical, financial, or scientific data.

Some typical uses of spreadsheets are

  • household taxes
  • grading system
  • income taxes
  • inventories
  • mortgage payments

Types of Spreadsheet

  • Manual – creating worksheet on ledger paper or columnar using a paper, pencil, calculator, and eraser.
  • Electronic – a computer-generated spreadsheet that makes the basic task much easier

What is a Spreadsheet program?

  • A spreadsheet program is a program that generates a user’s worksheet on-screen and enables him to embed hidden formulas that perform visible calculations.

The story behind the spreadsheet

In 1978, a Harvard business student named Dan Bricklin got tired of adding up columns of numbers- and adding them up again after making a few changes – just to assess the effect of the merger. Bricklin, who knew a little about computers from summer jobs at Wang and other firms, came up with the idea of a spreadsheet program running on a personal computer.

Bricklin’s teacher and a programmer friend, Bob Frankston, produced visicalc. It is a program for apple ii computer. This marked an important new chapter in American enterprise, the electronic spreadsheet.

VisiCalc was a huge success. More than 700,000 copies of the program were sold. It was almost single-handedly responsible for the success of the apple ii personal computer. By 1984, it disappeared when IBM launched lotus 1-2-3, an integrated program that combines analytical graphics and database management with what is clearly a clone of VisiCalc  spreadsheet.

Many innovations did come out, especially during the 90’s when the development of microchips was unstoppable, and there was rapid development in various application programs. Finally, the year of GUI’s (graphical user interface) desktop arrived. The next decade Microsoft software king- bill gates, who gave birth to Microsoft office software such as Microsoft excel, which operates almost like lotus 1-2-3 but is much faster and more user-friendly. It works on a graphical desktop environment with its electronic output device companion the witty-mouse.

Elements of the Electronic Spreadsheet

  • ROW-is a horizontal block of cells running across the breadth of the spreadsheet. Rows are numbered sequentially from the top.
  • COLUMN-is a vertical block of cells identified by a unique alphabetical letter.
  • WORKSHEET-is made up of rows and columns where you enter labels, numbers, and formulas. It contains 256 columns with alphabet headings and 65,536 numbered rows.
  • CELL-is the rectangle formed by rows and columns. The combination of the column letter and the row number is called cell reference or cell address. You might notice a rectangular highlight that indicates the location on-screen of the active cell. This is called active cell indicator.
  • WORKBOOK-is also called the file. It contains multiple worksheets and chart sheets. You can switch between worksheets within a workbook easily. You can also name the sheets separately to easily distinguish them from one another.
  • RANGE– is a block of selected cells. It is also a selection of multiple cells.
  • CELL CONTENT– is any data entered into the cell. This can be numbers, letters, formulas, date, and time.
  • DATABASE-is a collection of related information about a subject organized in a useful manner.

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