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Spreadsheets have a come a long, long way over the years, and plenty of companies today are duking it out to build the best one. So we took a look at the evolution of the spreadsheet and which elements make the best one to serve the way you work today and into the future.
The Evolution of
The spreadsheet is a modern tool, but its roots are deeply entwined with the history of human
innovation. Learn the spreadsheet’s origin story — and ﬁnd out what the future may bring.
In the beginning...
It all started with a
need for calculation.
Before Arabic numerals,
people used symbolic
These were pretty,
but crummy at
Invented in ancient
But no one could
show their work —
which is bad for business.
THE RISE OF
Invention of printing enables the spread
of Arabic numerals and the concept of
place value in arithmetic to Europe.
Franciscan monk and mathematician
Luca Pacioli introduces double-entry
bookkeeping to the world of business.
Double-entry bookkeeping spreads
throughout the world via the Venetian
merchants who adopt it.
TO THE MASSES
William Oughtred invents the slide rule.
Blackboard slates are adopted
widely in U.S. schools.
DAWN OF AUTOMATED
Burroughs ﬁles for
his ﬁrst patent on a
Calculators are in wide
use among commercial
Hewlett Packard introduces
the HP-35, the ﬁrst advanced-function,
pocket-sized calculator. It’s an instant
Sharp launches the popular
battery-powered calculator, the QT-8D.
Initially, spreadsheets were all
about efficiency of computation.
VisiCalc is released as the ﬁrst spreadsheet
program for a computer.
Lotus 1-2-3 is introduced.
Excel and Quattro Pro are introduced.
Spreadsheets become more user-friendly.
People begin using them to manage
work beyond computational efficiency.
ISPs greatly expand bandwidth
capabilities, enabling cloud computing
apps to offer business-ready speed and
Amazon Web Services offers a suite of
cloud-based services, including:
Salesforce.com is a key pioneer of
delivering enterprise applications via
a website - known as cloud computing.
Human intelligence through
Amazon Mechanical Turk
people worldwide were using
Microsoft Office alone.
94% market penetration rate of Microsoft Office suite
of businesses report no
plans to use cloud-based
Many businesses turn to Google
Apps to provide additional
spreadsheets with much-needed
say they’re either
heavily using cloud
apps or running at least
some applications in
are developing or
beginning to implement
Yet the biggest spreadsheet providers continue
to add features focused on data analysis
60% of spreadsheets have no formulas — meaning
spreadsheets are used to manage much more than
just computational work
So spreadsheets are still overwhelmingly used
to manage work, and cloud-based collaboration is
ﬁrmly entrenched across enterprises.
CHARTING THE FUTURE
Tomorrow’s spreadsheets must satisfy
in the cloud
not just numbers
in one place
The spreadsheet is here to stay. The only question is …
Who will make the best one?
Try the spreadsheet application of the future now at www.smartsheet.com/future
Gleeson-White, Jane. Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Shaped the Modern World. W. W. Norton & Company, 2012.