Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Get HideMyAss! VPN, PC Mag's Top 10 VPNs of 2016 for 55% off for a Limited Time ×
Software Microsoft

Recalc Or Die: Excel 1.0 Developers Celebrate Their Baby's 30th Birthday 119

theodp writes: This weekend, reports GeekWire, many of the original Excel team members are getting together to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the software's release. "We certainly ripped some stuff off," acknowledged Microsoft Excel 1.0 lead developer Doug Klunder, "but we also did some things that nobody else had done at the time and probably hasn't done since — some of which are really insane, and some of which turn out to be pretty handy." Klunder, who was responsible for Excel's killer "intelligent recalc" feature, quit his job after Bill Gates decided to shift the original Excel project from MS-DOS to the Mac, but ended up coming back and finishing the project after an ill-fated stint as a farm worker in the lettuce fields of California. "Just imagine having this product where one of the key components of it is really only understood by this guy who will quit routinely and go be a migrant farm worker down in California," said Excel 1.0 program manager Jabe Blumenthal. "It was not necessarily the most traditional or stable of environments." Many of the original Excel team members still use the program today — the RSVP sheet for this weekend's party was an Excel Online document. Before a professional naming firm came up with "Excel," the software was known by its code name "Odyssey", and other product names considered by Microsoft included "Master Plan" and "Mr. Spreadsheet." By the way, "Mr. Spreadsheet" makes his MOOC debut next week in edX's free-to-audit Excel for Data Analysis and Visualization course.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Recalc Or Die: Excel 1.0 Developers Celebrate Their Baby's 30th Birthday

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Still the best there is. Crushes all competitors like libre office and google docs. They can't handle complex formulas like Excel (tm) can do.

    You wanna be the best? Use the best.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 26, 2015 @02:09PM (#50604283)

    Lotus 1-2-3 was pretty cool, and Excel excels at novel ways to silently corrupt my data. :-(

    • by HyperQuantum ( 1032422 ) on Saturday September 26, 2015 @02:37PM (#50604393) Homepage

      Yes. Don't ever let Excel touch your csv files. For example, if you open a csv file with Excel and then save it again, it will have converted cells containing (large) numeric IDs to scientific notation. Without asking. Bye, data.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        There is a simple workaround for this - rename the file from .csv to .csx

        When you open it, Excel will start with the file import wizard where you can tell it to delimit with commas and finally import your 45-character zero-padded serial numbers as text.

        Now the import wizard could certainly use some work. I think it's the same now as it was in Office 2000!

      • Same with dBase (.dbf) files. Sometimes the customers who used our database programs discovered that they could browse the data in Excel, and if they tried to save changes... {shudder} good-bye, data.
      • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Saturday September 26, 2015 @05:14PM (#50604851) Homepage

        Yes. Don't ever let Excel touch your csv files. For example, if you open a csv file with Excel and then save it again, it will have converted cells containing (large) numeric IDs to scientific notation. Without asking. Bye, data.

        Converting "JAN10" and "MAR10" to dates was also pretty creative, changing like 5 entries in a list of many thousand codes. Silent, subtle data corruption is so fun. At least with the scientific notation it's pretty obvious your data has been fucked.

      • Excel also likes to helpfully convert a telephone number to a date...sigh.

      • by jeremyp ( 130771 )

        You're upset that Excel treats something that looks like a number as a number instead of reading your mind.

        Put your serial numbers (which aren't really numbers, they are strings containing only digits) in quotes.

        • It actually was a csv file with all fields surrounded by quotes. Even the numbers. That said, the contents of that file were not provided by myself but by a third party, and the file was apparently opened in Excel by my employer's customers, who were supposed to let our software read the file.

    • Lotus 1-2-3 turned lots of accountants into programmers. Basically it used the menu keyboard patterns as commands (mostly pre-mouse days) so that one pretty much just made a list of keyboard sequences they already knew as a "program". Add an IF function and Go-to cell coordinates, and you have a Turing Complete language.

      It was the closest we actually ever came to "programming for the masses". (Of course, it was spaghetti code only its mother could love.)

      Excel's programming language is awkward even for progr

  • quoted from the summary:

    [quote]the RSVP sheet for this weekend's party was an Excel Online document.[/quote]

    And THIS is the problem with spreadsheets, people are using them for columnar text formatting, for lists and the like, and NOT calculations. If they wanted an RSVP list there's @#$@#$ iCal/Webcal/Google Calendar

    • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Saturday September 26, 2015 @05:49PM (#50604953)

      And THIS is the problem with spreadsheets, people are using them for columnar text formatting, for lists and the like, and NOT calculations.

      Uh, spreadsheets aren't just for calculations, and they never have been. They're for any kind of data storage or manipulation which could benefit from organization into columns and rows. That includes things like lists of records with text fields (like names) that might benefit from data manipulation (like sorting alphabetically or whatever).

      In case you don't realize this, spreadsheets derive from accounting ledgers, which similarly held RECORDS. Calculations was one thing they could be used for, such as keeping a running tab on an account balance or whatever. But they also often were a place to consolidate various information, such as invoice lists of names, addresses, other customer data, etc.

      Keeping a list of attendees for a party seems like a fine usage for a spreadsheet. Sure, a dedicated calendar app might have more specific functionality, but only if you want those functions. If all is needed is a place to store data in an organized fashion, why NOT a spreadsheet?

      (And before you start complaining about how modern Excel is a bloated piece of crap, I'll happily agree with you -- but the ability to format text and column cells is important even if you want to do the most basic reporting with data involving calculations. So, you can hardly dispense with most of that and still end up with an application that anyone would want to use. People adopted spreadsheets because they could store data conveniently in a useful format -- if all they wanted was calculations, they could have just used a calculator or adding machine.)

      • by derinax ( 93566 )

        I was at one of the early Office launches, 1997 or so (not for fun, I was an MS conference tech). One of the things that lodged in my head was the presentation from the Excel project lead and the implied competition between the Office apps. He said he had heard about all the great advances Word had made for text formatting and presentation for this release, and he exclaimed that "we have Word's functionality inside each and every cell!"

        So no, even from the earliest, and as far as MS was concerned, spreads

    • Spreadsheets are one of my favourite tools. To me, no matter whether it was SC, or 1-2-3, or Excel, or LibreCalc, a spreadsheet is a "rubbery grid", which I mostly use for calculating things, but also for formatting things in blocks, and even making things like logos and graphics. My 1st business cards were made in Lotus 1-2-3 with Allways. I recently rebuilt all the logos for my website in LibreCalc.

      It's not the machine - it's the machinist.

  • VBA Anonomys (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I admit it. I like Exel. I especially like VBA. Why on earth would I like VBA you ask?

    I spent a long time working in a department highly reliant on statistics calculated from a lot of data. Many many tables of data used to generate and analyze other data. Working for a daily cheap company, MS office was all we were given to do the job.

    We were not permitted to write custom apps or to install other software. The only sort of programmability we had was VBA. Some of the things we built too processes from being

  • They succeeded by ripped stuff mostly from Lotus, and creating undocumentated APIs [groklaw.net] that would give Excel an advantage [groklaw.net] under Windows and giving MS developers preferential access to OCX [edge-op.org] APIs [edge-op.org] and paying people to destroy their Lotus 123 System Disks [edge-op.org] :)
  • Here is a screenshot of v1.01 in 1985 on Mac:

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2429/3635573389_7a34b231a2_o.jpg [flickr.com]

    I could not find a DOS screenshot, but would welcome one)

    It is remarkably similar looking today, 30 years later.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      spreadsheet calculator (sc) is still available!

  • Excel? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by VAXcat ( 674775 )
    Got no interest in it. Spreadsheets are something that a user would use.
  • MultiFinder had a workaround for Excel 1.x where it had to be loaded below the 1MB line.

    • by Megane ( 129182 )

      The problem was that Excel 1.0 was written using a bytecode virtual machine that for some really stupid reason used 8086-style segment/offset pointers referring to absolute host memory addresses... on a system with 32-bit registers and linear addressing space. It was a really big WTF.

      I seem to also recall that either Excel 1.0 for Mac or Word 1.0 for Mac was the first to have the key shortcut Command-W = close window. Millions of people have been accidentally quitting apps when trying to close windows ever

  • Better hope there are fewer than 65536 of them and nobody's name is longer than 256 characters.

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (8) I'm on the committee and I *still* don't know what the hell #pragma is for.

Working...