What is a Spreadsheet?

We explain what a spreadsheet is and what is the history of this computer tool. Also, what is it for and some examples.

  1. What is a Spreadsheet?

A spreadsheet or electronic template is understood as a type of digital tool that consists of a document consisting of rows and columns in a table , thus forming cells in which alphanumeric information can be entered and related in a logical, mathematical or sequential way.

Spreadsheets are a computer tool of enormous application and validity in the most diverse fields of human activity in the world today. From administrators, accountants, scientists and inventory managers, to the professions least given to mathematics, they take advantage of it and its ability to automate certain operations, such as the ordering of data or combinations of the four main mathematics : sum, subtraction, multiplication and division.

Thus, a spreadsheet is a versatile computer tool, adaptable to different needs, and frequent in office software packages such as Microsoft Office, LibreOffice, OpenOffice, etc.

  1. Spreadsheet History

The first electronic data sheet was created in 1972 , taking advantage of algorithms already patented a couple of years before by Pardo and Landau. His announcement took place in  Richard Mattessich’s Budgeting Models  and  System Simulation article  , although the accepted inventor of spreadsheets as we know them is Dan Bricklin.  

According to Bricklin, the idea arose from an extensive table drawn on a blackboard by a professor from his university, who perceiving a wrong calculation almost at the end, had to raise it from the beginning, erasing all his hard work. Seeing that, Bricklin imagined the possibility of an interactive spreadsheet in which these tasks were much simpler.

That first spreadsheet was called VisiCalc, and it was extremely important because it drew the attention of the world of business and administration to personal computers (PCs) , until then held as a hobby.

  1. What is a spreadsheet for?

A spreadsheet allows a wide variety of functions, such as:

  • Enter data in lists or sequences of operations, save and print them.
  • Sort lists and data sets, applying alphabetic or other criteria.
  • Apply formulas and formal operations to data sets to obtain results.
  • Graph in different ways (cake, bar, etc.) data sets and operations.
  • Build automated digital templates.
  1. Spreadsheet Examples

A couple of examples of a table or spreadsheet can be:



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