A spreadsheet software program consists of rows and columns that make up a grid. You can enter a formula that automatically totals a list of numbers, so that you don’t have to bother with a calculator.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Microsoft Excel. The electronic spreadsheet was essentially invented in 1979 by software pioneer Dan Bricklin.
The technology took a great step forward in 1983 when Mitch Kapor’s Lotus Development Corporation rolled out Lotus 1-2-3, which integrated charts and spreadsheets in the same program.
Microsoft’s first spreadsheet program, released in 1982, was Multiplan. It was not as popular as Lotus 1-2-3, and the company went back to the drawing board. The result was Excel, released in September 1985.
Excel forges ahead
Lotus was slow to bring its 1-2-3 spreadsheet to Windows and by 1988 Excel had started to outsell the Lotus product. In due course, Excel helped Microsoft become the leading PC software developer.
Back then, computers were nowhere near as fast or powerful as today and the speed of recalculation of a spreadsheet could take a long time. By contrast, Excel’s ‘intelligent recalc’ was designed so that the program updated only the cells that had been changed after new data was added. This speeded up the process considerably.
Easy to learn
Spreadsheets have straightforward formulas and functions which do not take much effort to master. There are numerous free templates online that farmers can download. There are also free online courses and tutorials – just do a bit of Googling. The same goes for the templates: whatever template you may need can be downloaded free. You will be amazed at what is available online tailor-made for the farmer.
Try bit.ly/farmcel for interactive spreadsheets for farmers. And have a look at bit.ly/excelteacher; it’s an excellent resource for guides, courses and templates.
According to Techradar.com, Excel is the top spreadsheet program. But there are alternatives that can be downloaded free. These include OpenOffice, Libre Office, Google Sheet and Zoho Sheet.