The Computer Revolution/Software/Spreadsheet

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The spreadsheet program summarizes information from many paper sources in one place and presents the information in a format to help a decision maker see the financial "big picture" for the company. Over half of financial management reporting is performed with spreadsheets.

Because of the ease of use, flexibility, and power of spreadsheets, they support many critical business functions and often fill roles where other solutions would be too slow or costly to implement. Years ago accountants and payroll specialists used to input all of their information into long hardcopy documents. Now companies can get the work done with half the amount of staff.

Philip Howard (2005-04-22). Managing spreadsheets. Retrieved on 2006-06-29.

Spreadsheets have come a long way over the years and are more user friendly so more people use them – not just accountants. Because of the large number of mechanical calculations that must be performed, payroll was one of the first functions to be computerized in most organizations.

Software packages allow users to create a large worksheet in which data and formulas can be entered to perform a variety of calculations and analysis. People used to have to work on multiple spreadsheets at the same time or in other applications when they needed to analyze large amounts of information. Now spreadsheets can be a lot larger in size.

Charts, tables and graphs can also be utilized. You can apply rich visual enhancements to your charts.

Another great benefit of spreadsheets is the fact that more than one person can manipulate a spreadsheet if they are on a shared database. They can input data from their own computers anytime they want. The advantage of this is that people can work in teams and help to protect and control access to their work.

Real Estate professionals use spreadsheets for financially analyzing income property for all types of real estate (amortization and appreciation). Once there is a spreadsheet created for one property the data can be saved for all investors’ presentations related to the building in one workbook. Later you can recall the input data for any investor. This makes work very convenient and saves a lot of time.

One spreadsheet document is referred to as a worksheet. Many worksheets can be saved together into a spreadsheet file called a workbook. The worksheets are divided into rows and columns that all have cell addresses. You can enter information into the active cell, which is the selected cell. In order to enter information into multiple cells all you do is select more than one cell with the cell pointer. Formulas may be used to perform mathematical functions to compute certain tasks. Using formulas can save a lot of time entering information.

The Bad News about Spreadsheets
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Spreadsheets are the most used program in accounting, finances, statistics and many other tasks in the daily activities of a company. However, spreadsheets have their downfalls when it comes to how the formulas are used within them. If the right output or input is not correct then a wrong answer will be generated, but sometimes it is not possible to know if we have the wrong answer. Also if the numbers in each cells are not formula generated, many mistaken would be generated when we try to use them. If a number is hand written in a cell, not generated by a formula, then that number will give the wrong answer when used within another formula, and in a large set of data it is impossible to know if we have the wrong answer. Another fact is that if we want to pin a cell within a formula a dollar sign is required in front of the cell, in order to be able to use that cell only, in cases where we need to perform calculations in multiple cells with the copy and paste function, instead of writing the formula for each cell. If we do not pin the cell we want to use for each calculation then Excel will perform the calculation for each cell numerically and we will have wrong answers. Spreadsheets are easy to use for large groups of data, but the input and output options have to be always correct in order to have the right answer at the end.

Microsoft Excel is the component of Microsoft Office which is used to create payroll analyses, reports, charts, queries, and forms for either personal or for a business.

One page of a book is called a sheet and a whole book is called a workbook.

The easiest way to calculate numbers is by using formulas. In order to create a formula you need to start one by using an equal sign (or a plus or minus sign). For example =sum (A1:B1). A1 = 1 B1 = 2 C1 would = 3. If you do not put a sign, the formula will be interpreted as text. The fastest way to add up a row is to use the Auto Sum function from the Home Tab.

The easiest way to sum up more than one row is dragging to the right and down the rows at once.

Some of the other features include Merging & Centering Data, Rotating Text, the ability to copy and paste data from one cell to another by the use of the Format Painter, and the use of an IF statement to test if a condition is true.

History of Spreadsheets
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Spreadsheets have certainly aided the computer industry for business purposes, with the most popular example being the Microsoft Excel application.

Microsoft originally developed a spreadsheet program called Multiplan in 1982. However, it soon lost popularity to Lotus 1-2-3 when it came to MS-DOS systems. This heralded the development and release of Excel in 1985 for the Macintosh computer. The first Windows version was released in November 1987 which lined up with the Mac and bundled with a run-time windows environment.

By 1988, Excel had started to outsell 1-2-3 because Lotus was slow to bring it to Windows. This helped Microsoft become the leading PC software developer. Microsoft developed regular new releases every two years or so.

Another company was selling a software package named "Excel" in the early years of Microsoft's Excel development, which lead to a trademark lawsuit. This necessitated that Microsoft refer to the program as "Microsoft Excel" in all of its press releases and legal documents. Eventually this practice was ignored, particularly since Microsoft purchased the trademark to the other program. The Microsoft program was also referred to as "XL" as an abbreviation, and the file extension of the default Excel format is ".xls".

Excel allowed the user to determine the appearance of spreadsheets (fonts, character attributes and cell appearance). Until 1999, this was unique compared to other spreadsheets on the market. It also allowed only cells dependent on the cell being modified to update. Previous spreadsheet programs recalculated everything all the time or waited for user commands to update the spreadsheet. The icing on the cake for Microsoft Excel was that in 1993 when it was first bundled into Microsoft Office, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Powerpoint had their GUIs redesigned for consistency with Excel.

Microsoft also added the ability to automate tasks in Excel and to provide user-defined functions for use in worksheets. However, the automation functionality caused Excel to become a target for macro viruses.

The biggest threat to Microsoft Excel is the Free Software Calc and also Gnumeric, both of which can open and save Excel documents.