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Jan 18

Microsoft celebrates 25 years of Excel

By David H. Ringstrom

Microsoft Excel has come a long way from its humble beginnings in September 1985 as a spreadsheet program for the Mac environment. This year, Microsoft is celebrating 25 years of Excel with a Facebook-based contest that encourages users to post their favorite Excel memory – with a social media twist.

 

Contestants must, in turn, encourage their friends to vote for their memory.  Two winners will receive an Xbox & Kinect package. Be sure to read the rules and conditions for the contest, which runs through January 31, 2011.

 

Microsoft Excel was actually a late-comer to the spreadsheet party, preceded by Visicalc in 1981, Microsoft’s MultiPlan in 1982, and Lotus 1-2-3 in 1983. In November 1987, Excel 2.0 for Windows debuted, along with an updated Mac version. At the time, Lotus 1-2-3 continued to rest on its MS-DOS laurels, and within a year Microsoft Excel sales began outstripping Lotus 1-2-3.

 

Several catch-up attempts were made by Lotus – does anyone remember WYSIWYG? – but Microsoft Excel already had won the spreadsheet war. Interestingly, Lotus 1-2-3 still can be purchased today as part of IBM’s Lotus SmartSuite, although the last update to the software was in 2002. To get a true sense of how much spreadsheets have evolved in the past 30 years, give Visicalc a quick spin (Tip: press the / key to access the menu, and use /SQ to exit the program).

 

There have been 11 Windows-based versions of Excel over the years, culminating with the latest version Microsoft Excel 2010. In the past 25 years, the competitive landscape has changed dramatically, with the head-to-head competition with Lotus 1-2-3 and Quattro Pro shifting to a face-off between free alternatives such as OpenOffice and GoogleDocs.

 

Who knows what the next 25 years will bring with regard to spreadsheets?



A previous version of this article first appeared on www.accountingweb.com .
 

 

About the author:

David H. Ringstrom, CPA heads up Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based software and database consulting firm providing training and consulting services nationwide. Contact David at david@nullacctadv.com  or follow him on Twitter. David speaks at conferences about Microsoft Excel, and presents webcasts for several CPE providers, including AccountingWEB partner CPE Link.