The Community for Technology Leaders
RSS Icon
Issue No.03 - July-September (2007 vol.29)
pp: 6-19
Martin Campbell-Kelly , University of Warwick
The first personal-computer spreadsheet, VisiCalc, was launched in May 1979. During the next decade, the spreadsheet evolved from a simple calculating aid to an indispensable tool of modern business, employed by tens of millions of users who had little or no direct computer experience. This article describes the development of spreadsheet usability from VisiCalc through Lotus 1-2-3 to Microsoft Excel.
spreadsheets, usability
Martin Campbell-Kelly, "Number Crunching without Programming: The Evolution of Spreadsheet Usability", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.29, no. 3, pp. 6-19, July-September 2007, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2007.43
1. N. Oudshoorn and T. Pinch, How Users Matter: The Co-construction of Users and Technology, MIT Press, 2003.
2. S.J. Douglas, Inventing American Broadcasting, 1899–1922, Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1987.
3. M. Campbell-Kelly and W. Aspray, Computer: A History of the Information Machine, 2nd. ed., Westview Press, 2004, pp. 211–213.
4. S. Smulyan, Selling Radio: The Commercialization of American Broadcasting, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994.
5. J.C. Herz, Joystick Nation: How Videogames Gobbled Our Money, Won Our Hearts, and Rewired Our Minds, Little, Brown and Co., 1997.
6. D. Bricklin and B. Frankston interview by M. Campbell-Kelly, 7 May 2004, p. 23.
7. R.X. Cringely, Accidental Empires, Addison-Wesley, 1992.
8. , Unless otherwise stated, the following discussion of VisiCalc is based on my interview with Bricklin and Frankston (see Ref. 6).
9. Ibid., p. 13.
10. R.P. Rumelt, VisiCorp 1978–1984 (Revised), Graduate School of Management, Univ. of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), 2003, p. 2.
11. D. Fylstra interview by T. Haigh, 7 May 2004.
12. D. Bricklin and B. Frankston interview by M. Campbell-Kelly, 7 May 2004, p. 26.
13. J. Tarter, "Who's Hot in Business Software," SoftLetter,11 Feb. 1983, p. 2.
14. M. Kapor interview by W. Aspray, 7 May 2004.
15. J. Sachs interview by M. Campbell-Kelly, 7 May 2004.
16. "New Software Takes the Drudgery Out," Business Week,13 Dec. 1982, pp. 72–76.
17. M. Campbell-Kelly, From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog: A History of the Software Industry, MIT Press, 2003, p. 255.
18. P. Petre, "The Man Who Keeps the Bloom on Lotus," Fortune,10 June 1985, pp. 92–94, 96, 98, 100.
19. , Aimed at users, consultants, and add-on makers (see later), Lotus magazine is a superb historical source for the development of the spreadsheet industry.
20. A. Akera, "Voluntarism and the Fruits of Collaboration: The IBM User's Group Share," Technology and Culture, vol. 42, no. 4, 2001, pp. 710–736.
21. B. Buell, "Coming of Age at Lotus: Software's Child Prodigy Grows Up," Business Week,25 Feb. 1985, pp. 54–55.
22. J. Sachs interview by M. Campbell-Kelly, 7 May 2004, p. 15.
23. D.W. Carroll, "Lotus Enhancements Blossom Forth," Software News, Mar. 1985, pp. 66–71.
24. P. Funk interview by M. Campbell-Kelly, 12 May 2003.
25. K.H. Hammonds, "The Little Software Maker that Lotus Loves," Business Week,7 Nov. 1988, p. 168.
26. J. Kinlan and S. Tucker interview by M. Campbell-Kelly, 12 May 2003.
27. J. Tarter,, "Report from Lotus-Land," SoftLetter,21 Mar. 1985, pp. 1–3.
28. Lotus, Lotus File Formats for 1–2–3 Symphony &Jazz: File Structure Descriptions for Developers, Addison-Wesley, 1986.
29. "New Programs for Third-Party Developers," Lotus, May 1986, p. 7.
30. C. Brown, "Your Add-in Holiday Shopping List," Lotus, Dec. 1987, pp. 74–81.
31. J. Potwora, "1–2–3 Utilities: A Variety of Waysto Enhance Your Spreadsheets," Ingram Journal, Apr. 1998, p. 13, 24.
32. L.D. Graham, Legal Battles that Shaped the Computer Industry, Quorum Books, 1999, pp. 56–68.
33. E.E. Keet, Preventing Piracy: A Business Guide to Software Protection, Addison-Wesley, 1985.
34. M. Campbell-Kelly, "Not All Bad: An Historical Perspective on Software Patents," Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Rev., vol. 11, no. 2, 2005, pp. 191–248.
35. S.J. Liebowitz and S.E. Margolis, Winners, Losers &Microsoft: Competing and Antitrust in High Technology, The Independent Inst., Oakland, Calif., 1999, p. 175.
36. For comprehensive histories of Multiplan D. Ichbiah and S.L. Knepper, The Making of Microsoft, Prima Publishing, 1991, pp. 98–119, 197–210.
37. 1–2–3 was eventually released for the Macintosh in 1990.
38. Ichbiah and Knepper, Making of Microsoft, p. 169.
39. Ibid., p. 205.
40. Microsoft Corp., "Soul of the New Machines," VHS Video, 1987.
41. K.H. Hammonds, "The Spreadsheet that Nearly Wore Lotus Out," Business Week,3 July 1989, pp. 50–52.
42. K.R. Conatser, "1–2–3 Through the Years," Lotus, June 1992, pp. 38–45.
43. Ibid., p. 42.
44. Liebowitz and Margolis, Winners, Losers &Microsoft, p. 175.
45. C.M. Christensen, The Innovator's Dilemma, Harper Business, 2000.
46. W. Leonhard, L. Hudspeth, and T.J. Lee, Excel 97 Annoyances, O'Reilly, 1997.
47. Campbell-Kelly, From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog, pp. 258–259.
48. Liebowitz and Margolis, Winners, Losers &Microsoft, p. 176.
49. "," Wikipedia, .
50. J. Markoff, "Google Takes Aim at Excel," New York Times,6 June 2006.
51. M. Campbell-Kelly and D.D. Garcia-Swartz, "The Rise, Fall and Resurrection of Software-as-a-Service: Historical Perspectives on the Computer Utility and Software for Lease on a Network," The Internet and American Business, W. Aspray, and P. Ceruzzi eds. MIT Press, forthcoming.
16 ms
(Ver 2.0)

Marketing Automation Platform Marketing Automation Tool