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Excel is 30!!! – what was your earliest memory of Excel? [weekend poll]



This week Excel turned 30. As per wikipedia,

Microsoft released the first version of Excel for the Macintosh on September 30, 1985

Let’s celebrate 30 years of Excel by reliving your first memory of it.

I will go first,

My first memory of Excel is from 2003. I just finished my engineering degree and started working as a software developer. I was also preparing for MBA entrance examinations. As part of this preparation, Every week I would take a practice exam (mock test). I wanted to keep track of my test scores, mistakes, strategies and analysis in one place. This is when I first used Excel. I made a spreadsheet with all these details and updated it every week. Thanks to it (and many other things), I secured admission to one of the best MBA schools in India in early 2004.

Around the same time, I also wrote my first piece of VBA code. This was part of my work as software developer. I created Excel based reports using VBA & Java APIs by fetching data from MySQL databases. Oh, the good old days of coding 🙂

What about you? What was your earliest memory of Excel? Please share in the comments

PS: Here is a time line of Excel history, made in Excel of course.


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32 Responses to “Excel is 30!!! – what was your earliest memory of Excel? [weekend poll]”

  1. My first experience with Excel was in 1991 in my first job. I was an extensive user of Lotus 1-2-3 (I remember I ran it first from a 5-¼ floppy disk and then from a 3-½ one) but in the computer I was assigned it was installed the MS suite of productivity, including Excel of course. At first I was attonished by its WYSIWYG and print preview capabilities because they allowed to create great tables for reports and presentation. It didn't take long later to learn how to record simple macros which lead to the amazing world of programming in VBA. Thirty years later, I still have a lot to learn. Actually, Chandoo's posts and others teach me something new everyday about this hard-to-defeat program.

  2. Michael (Micky) Avidan says:

    "Excel 4" (1992)
    Still have the Special Edition best seller book (linked picture)
    Michael (Micky) Avidan
    “Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator
    “Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2016)

    • Michael (Micky) Avidan says:

      Small disclosure:
      My previous post matched the question AS ASKED (my first experience with Excel).
      If it's about any spreadsheet program, then my first acquaintance was with "Lotus 1-2-3: for DOS - in 1985.
      Michael (Micky) Avidan
      “Microsoft® Answers” – Wiki author & Forums Moderator
      “Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2016)

  3. Steve H says:

    My first experience was in secondary school. For an IT project we had to build a library stock system which tracked what books had been taken out, who had taken them out and when. I remember it being really complicated back then, not so much now though!

  4. Dan Murray says:

    My earliest memory was...I hated it. In 1985 Lotus was the better product. By the late 1980's Windows had taken over and Excel began to get a lot better. Lotus bet big in Steve Jobs, Next and Lotus Improv...and lost big.

  5. Chris says:

    It was around 1995 and I was volunteering as secretary for a couple of family Reunion groups. Was handed over a mess of an address book and told to have the invitations out. I knew I could use the labels in Microsoft Word and save them to be able to use again the next year. But met a couple secretaries at my office that said “Why don’t you put them in Excel?” Then I learned about mail merges and I have been hooked ever since and now use it to research data for hospitals.
    Love what you do Chandoo! It Has been most helpful.

  6. Andy ZE says:

    Started with Supercalc on a 5 1/4 floppy on an Osborne 1. Excel 4.3 was part of an office suite on about 25 floppies of which number 17 wouldn't install until after several attempts. Excel was wonderful though, and it has only got better over the years.

  7. I remember using excel in fifth grade (1996) to make a chart for a presentation.

  8. Charmaine says:

    This is embarrassing but my first memory of excel was in fifth grade or 1999... I wanted something that puts my data (or rather class list) in the correct column without those frustrating misalignments.

    It was a wonderful surprise when I clicked on Microsoft Office and accidentally clicked on Excel to see those columns lay out for me.


  9. Michael says:

    My first experience was in college BANA 201 class. I don't remember what version of Excel we used. Only the familiar green background. I wish I had focused more on Excel and gotten double major in accounting/IT. Oh well never too late to learn. Happy Birthday, Excel!

  10. Shawn says:

    In 1985 I was in college. I also worked part-time nights taking Excel boxes off the line and placing them into cartons to be shipped all over the world. My first memory of actually USING excel is a little later in 1987 when I had graduated and started work at Safeco Insurance as an adjuster.

  11. Lawrie says:

    My first spreadsheet was produced in 1983 on a KayPro64 with their horrible software - Perfect Calc. I then moved quickly moved to Lotus 1-2-3. Upon changing jobs in 1986, was required to use the new Excel product. The big transition was illustrated by copying and pasting. You had to completely reverse your thought process in moving between the two products. Never looked back...

  12. Pedro says:

    My first experience was in 2000, was about 10 years old, when i didn't had acess to internet in my house, so to keep track of the Cheats in the Pokemon games, I registered all the cheat codes in spreadsheets

  13. Art Winston says:


    In 1969 we liscensed a database from Boeing.

    As an afterthought an additional product was included FORCAL (fourteen column worksheet) The first spreadsheet I believe. It ran on a Univac 1108

  14. Gino says:

    Good grief - as if I can remember that far back! 🙂 I think it was early '90s and it was Excel 4. I just remember how tidy my data tables looked without having to manually align the data!! And ya if memory serves - it was loaded on a DEC Pro and took about 20 diskettes to actually install.

    Geez - lessee - that makes me oh about skatey-eight years old... ha ha ha!

  15. George B says:

    First experience was 1989. Excel 1.xx something, I think.
    MacIntosh computer, our first ... couldn't afford a hard drive. Excel was on a 3.5 inch floppy. Eject it when you're done.

    Well worth the money ... took a while to get the hang of Excel mostly the concept of what it could do (I was in denial).

    Also learned how to type on via a game on that Mac (Typing Tutor)

  16. Lavina says:

    It was 1996 - I had a temporary position with a company that used Microsoft Office - I believe that it may have been their marketing contacts list. Up until then I'd only ever used Lotus Symphony! Oh how the times have changed!

  17. Cesarino (Portugal) says:

    My first experience with a spreadsheet dates back to VISICALC (Apple II) around the year of 1979. When in 1985 I started using EXCEL, it was like I had passed from the stone age to the bronze age. It was great seeing all this development of best software for PC.

  18. Neva says:

    Wow, flashback(s)!
    First memory of Excel was after using first VP Planner and then Lotus 1-2-3 since 1986/87, then getting "upgraded" to all Microsoft Office in 1993 with Excel 5. I had to convince all the District Managers who reported to my boss that the world was not ending. I preached the advantages of standardization (not hard in the world of WordPerfect 5, where ESC = "repeat" and you hit to exit --- *there's* intuitive - NOT!). I took to Excel like a fish to water.

    I went on to year-long contract at Microsoft in 1995 doing support. I learned more than I can describe: Office installs and break/fix Excel, VBA, and the practice of true troubleshooting. It changed the shape of my brain.

    When I first started taking VBA calls, my brain was still trying to get back in the gear of code and learn the object-oriented perspective. I remember waking up at 4 AM one time, sitting bolt upright on the edge of the bed in a panic, trying to think, "Am I was responsible for code I wrIte in my sleep?? And... just how the heck do I reference a lava lamp anyhow??" EEK. Oh. Dream. ok, good. LOL

  19. Jack McDevitt says:

    I started with 1-2-3 about 1985 when it became readily available for business. I switched to Quattro Pro in 88 because it was much more powerful and cheaper. ( Along with dBase and WordPerfect)

    With the advancement of Windows 95 Excel caught back up so I switched back!

  20. Darren Eves says:

    I started off with Supercalc back in 1986, moving onto Lotus Symphony before landing with Excel in around 1990 after our company upgraded to PC's which could run windows. In 2008 I was working extensively with excel, and created a test virtual machine which was running every version of excel from 3 to 2007 as well as compatible spreadsheets (2 wouldn't co-exist).

  21. Krishna says:

    Hello All,

    Its humbling to see many with 10-25 years of experience with Excel. I am a newbie in the group. My memory with Excel is quite fresh. I first used Excel in my junior year college. My dear friend, Shubhendu has introduced me to excel showing the basic calculations.

    But my love for this started when I have taken a job as Associate consultant and a senior of mine, Mohit, has built a tracker tool for one our clients. This potential of excel made excited and made me lost in the world of spreadsheet. And I discovered Chandoo.org.....

  22. Butch Barker says:

    I used the very first version of Excel, I was using Lotus 123 and I remember thinking nothing could ever match Lotus

  23. Brian says:

    My division was using another "blast from the past," Visicalc, for producing analyses of various financial institutions. It involved a lot of manual work beyond just numerical input.

    We were waiting for a product called "Supercrunch" to be released, but Microsoft Excel beat them to the punch. I converted our Visicalc spreadsheet to Excel, writing a 1,200 line macro to accept input as to what size of institution being input, which in turn determined where to move the cursor next. Then, at the end of input, the blank lines and columns would be deleted, a backup would be prompted for, and the output would be printed. What used to take 1 hour per institution was reduced to 20 minutes, with half of the latter for printing...on another memory from the past, a dot-matrix printer!

  24. Diana says:

    I used Excel in 1995 to record/calculate grades when I was teaching middle school (6th-8th grade) in Naples, Italy. The other teachers thought I was a computer genius! 🙂

  25. Kevin says:

    I heard of Excel in 1990/1 but did not know anyone who ran a copy.
    Later on in 1996 my engineering company finally got copies when they decided to buy PCs for the offices.

    I remember looking at a blank worksheet with all those cells thinking what is all this for ? Now life without Excel seems impossible (or very difficult).

    Programs that I wrote at school which took hours / days can be simply constructed in Excel within minutes: that is progress.

  26. Chihiro says:

    First used Excel in 2001, in lab for slope calculation.

  27. Dan says:

    Wow - 1981 ish - It wasnt Excel at that point I was using Visicalc on a RadioShack Tandy Desktop - Awesome, then Lotus Spreadsheet, then finally Excel in the 1990's. It has been love ever since - I have to get a =Life(date of birth)

  28. Jack Hughes says:

    Like some of you, I cut my teeth on Supercalc in the early 80s, back in South Africa (I live and work in the U.S now). I used it to do project and cost estimates and forecasts for multimedia software development. It used some pretty fancy macros and lookup tables and incell charts. When Excel became stable (around version 4?) I migrated the spreadsheets and never looked back. But after 32 years I'm still learning new tricks with Excel and I mostly have Chandoo to thank for it!

  29. Sergio A. Moreno says:

    In the mid 90s I remember I used it to keep track of my Panini World Cup albums. I just generated 4 cols, each containing 100 cells, printed it out and marked which ones I had for exchanging with friends.

    I was amazed by autofill!

  30. Alan says:

    Excel 3 / 4 on an Apple Mac (1991/2)
    I'd been using Supercalc (87-90) and Lotus 123.
    Aside from the huge change in graphics which was amazing at the time, it was the ability to use copy / paste and undo that made such a difference to how we could work.
    Imagine working without the undo process today!

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