Antedating of "Spreadsheet"

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Wed Sep 5 02:51:57 UTC 2012

spreadsheet (OED 1982)

1981 _ABA Banking Journal_ Oct. (Nexis)  Whatever the size of your bank' personal computers belong on its planning agenda for next year. Personal computers--also known as home computers and microcomputers--are those small, inexpensive, and yet amazingly powerful and flexible machines that are being used for everything from video games to spread-sheet analysis.


The above citation alludes to VisiCalc, the enormously important invention of my old partner on the MIT tiddlywinks team, Dan Bricklin.  The OED fails to recognize that the VisiCalc spreadsheet was preceded by a noncomputerized financial tool called a "spread-sheet."  Here is an early citation:

1945 _Journal of the American Statistical Association_ 40: 511 (JSTOR)  Attention is directed to the Summary of Financial Data (Spread Sheet) shown in Exhibit III.  It will be noted that basic statistical data is "spread-out" on one sheet so as to be read easily and correlated to significant factors recorded in the lower part of the exhibit which are essential to proper interpretation of the data.

Fred Shapiro

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list