What is a Spreadsheet?

A spreadsheet or electronic template is understood to be a type of digital tool that consists of a document made up of rows and columns in a table, thus forming cells in which alphanumeric information can be entered and put into relation 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 devoted to mathematics, take advantage of it and its ability to automate certain operations, such as the ordering of data or combinations of the four main mathematics: addition, 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.

Spreadsheet history

The first electronic data sheet was created in 1972, taking advantage of algorithms already patented a couple of years earlier by Pardo and Landau. His announcement came in Richard Mattessich’s article  Budgeting Models and System Simulation, 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 at his university, who, perceiving a wrong calculation almost at the end, had to rethink 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 easier.

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

What is a spreadsheet for?

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

  • Enter data into lists or sequences of operations, save and print them.
  • Sort lists and data sets, applying alphabetical or other criteria.
  • Apply formal formulas and operations to data sets to get results.
  • The graph in different ways (cake, bar, etc.) data sets and operations.
  • Build automated digital templates.

Spreadsheet examples

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

Alex Marshall

My responsibilities include interacting with the Board of Directors, data entry, accounts payable, payroll, grant report entry, managing the organization's HR, helping and creating organizational and program budgets in collaboration with the ED and Program Direct, and other misc. tasks.

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