The Rise and Rise of the Spreadsheet

Martin Campbell-Kelly


Every year, about 50 million spreadsheet programs are sold worldwide. Since the appearance of VisiCalc in 1979, the personal computer spreadsheet program has evolved into a software artifact of such bewildering complexity that few users can be sure that their spreadsheets are error free, and still fewer understand all their capabilities.

Spreadsheet programs have eliminated much end-user programming, but unlike programming languages, there is no "theory" of spreadsheets and no processes of standardization. As a result, the modern spreadsheet is not a coherent design but an accretion of features "selected" by millions of users in a Darwinian-like process.

The seminar will trace the technical and social evolution of the spreadsheet from the time-sharing systems of the 1960s up to the present day.
Tuesday 4th February 2003, 14:00
Robert Recorde Room
Department of Computer Science