The History of Microsoft Excel

If you, like me, are an MS Excel nerd, you’re probably curious about some Excel history facts. When I wrote this history page, it struck me I have been using Excel for three decades (you guessed right, I’m over 30 years old ), and the version available back then was MS Excel 2.0.

Brief Excel history overlook

Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet software developed by Microsoft Corporation. It was first released in 1985 for the Apple Macintosh and later for the MS-DOS IBM PC. Over the years, Excel has become one of the world’s most widely used spreadsheet applications, with versions available for Windows, macOS, and mobile devices.

Excel was created by a team of developers led by Charles Simonyi, a software engineer at Microsoft at the time. The development of Excel was motivated by the need for a user-friendly spreadsheet application that could run on personal computers, which were becoming more popular at the time.

The first version of Excel had a limited set of features compared to later versions. However, it introduced several innovations that made it stand out from other spreadsheet applications. For example, Excel introduced the concept of “cells,” which allowed users to organize their data into rows and columns. It also introduced a graphical user interface (GUI) that made navigating and interacting with the application easier.

Over the years, Excel has evolved into a sophisticated tool offering many features and capabilities. Today, Excel is used by millions of people worldwide for tasks ranging from simple data entry to complex data analysis and modeling. Its versatility and user-friendliness have made it an indispensable tool for businesses, academics, and individuals.

MS Excel version history

  • Excel 1.0 (1985): The first version of Excel was released for the Apple Macintosh.
  • Excel 2.0 (1987): This version marked Excel’s expansion to Microsoft Windows and featured new features and enhancements such as custom views and increased functionality with macro programs.
  • Excel 3.0 (1990): Introduced new features such as support for larger spreadsheets, enhanced printing capabilities, and improved charting and graphics support.
  • Excel 4.0 (1992): This version of Excel introduced VBA (Visual Basic for Applications), providing users with new automation tools and increased functionality.
  • Excel 5.0 (1993): Excel 5.0 brought significant advancements, such as support for AutoCorrect, password protection, and improved charting and formatting tools.
  • Excel 97 (1997): Improved collaboration capabilities and increased integration with other Microsoft applications were among the many significant features introduced in this version.
  • Excel 2000 (1999): This version introduced web-based collaboration, enhanced data analysis and charting capabilities, and improved integration with other programs.
  • Excel 2002 (2001): Further expansion of Excel’s web-based capabilities was the highlight of this version, in addition to introducing features such as SmartTags.
  • Excel 2003 (2003): This version added new features such as enhanced support for XML, improved charting capabilities, and additional collaboration functionality.
  • Excel 2007 (2007): A major change to the user interface was introduced in this version with the introduction of the Ribbon, which offered better visibility of commands and new features such as increased support for conditional formatting.
  • Excel 2010 (2010): Improved Sparklines, better pivot table, and charting capabilities, and expanded support for cloud-based services were some of the highlights of this version.
  • Excel 2013 (2013): The Quick Analysis tool, improved support for sharing and collaborating on workbooks, and better support for touchscreen devices were among the new capabilities introduced in this version.
  • Excel 2016 (2015): The key enhancements in this version included the Power Query and Power Pivot tools, new chart types, and improved collaboration capabilities.
  • Excel 2019 (2018): This version brought further improvements in data analysis, charting, and collaboration while maintaining many of the familiar features and tools that have made Excel reliable and trusted by millions of users worldwide.

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