Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The spreadsheet is 30 years old

It was 30 years ago that the spreadsheet application was invented. PC magazine has an entry about how the spreadsheet has brought society nothing but trouble. For example, the article blames the spreadsheet for many miscalculations in the past rather than the people responsible for building the spreadsheet.

I think the spreadsheet was an ingenious idea that has much broader applications than accounting tasks. The spreadsheet is simply a tool to visualize and manipulate data. In the end, it is the human interpretation of that data that leads to the undesirable consequences. Blaming the spreadsheet application for a financial crises is like placing the responsibility of car accidents on the invention of the automobile, rather than the people who drive them.

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