A spreadsheet is an interactive computer application program for organization and analysis of data in tabular form. Spreadsheets developed as computerized simulations of paper accounting worksheets. The program operates on data represented as cells of an array, organized in rows and columns. Each cell of the array is a model–view–controller element that can contain either numeric or text data, or the results of formulas that automatically calculate and display a value based on the contents of other cells.

The user of the spreadsheet can make changes in any stored value and observe the effects on calculated values. This makes the spreadsheet useful for "what-if" analysis since many cases can be rapidly investigated without tedious manual recalculation. Modern spreadsheet software can have multiple interacting sheets, and can display data either as text and numerals, or in graphical form.

In addition to the fundamental operations of arithmetic and mathematical functions, modern spreadsheets provide built-in functions for common financial and statistical operations. Such calculations as net present value or standard deviation can be applied to tabular data with a pre-programmed function in a formula. Spreadsheet programs also provide conditional expressions, functions to convert between text and numbers, and functions that operate on strings of text.

Spreadsheets have now replaced paper-based systems throughout the business world. Although they were first developed for accounting or bookkeeping tasks, they now are used extensively in any context where tabular lists are built, sorted, and shared.

Visicalc was the first electronic spreadsheet on a microcomputer, and it helped turn the Apple II computer into a popular and widely used system. Lotus 1-2-3 was the leading spreadsheet when DOS was the dominant operating system. Excel now has the largest market share on the Windows and Macintosh platforms. A spreadsheet program is a standard feature of an office productivity suite; since the advent of web apps, office suites now also exist in web app form.


  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spreadsheet