The spreadsheet was the "killer app" that made the PC into a business computer. Corporate finance departments had used computers for modeling. but had to program everything in FORTRAN or COBOL or one of their derivatives, and the process was slow and painful and difficult to change. The inventor of VisiCalc, the original spreadsheet for the Apple II, launched a revolution that spiraled far beyond his expectations. Lotus 1-2-3, the successor to VisiCalc, put spreadsheets on the executive's desks, allowing for simple financial tracking and modeling and for easy modification of data for 'what-if' scenarios. Our most recent recession mayhave been if not created then certainly modified by the spreadsheet, because it allowed management to re-examine its costs and search for more efficient means of production and distribution with a few keystrokes. The inefficiencies of our system have traditionally supported the livelihoods of thousands of families, and they suddenly found themselves out in the cold, sacrificed for profit margin and lower overhead.
A spreadsheet is a sophisticated database, although information can only be entered in two dimensions, marked by rows and columns. Even within this tight structure, a spreadsheet can be incredibly flexible,modifying itself, plotting data for a more visual approach, reorganizing itself when necessary, and recalculating massive amounts of information to accomodate a simple change. Spreadsheets have moved far beyond the old calculating models, combing the old numbers orientation with the flexibility of a database. Some are even begin to emulate the word processor, making links with text documents for easy information presentation.This file created with Hypertype 2.2 by Simon St.Laurent