Formatting Currency

Using currency in a spreadsheet is the original reason for the creation of spreadsheet software.

The word spreadsheet actually comes from the slang for newspapers and magazines where we used to spread the information. When we talk about a full-page spread in a newspaper this would be taking up the whole area of the page with either an article or an advert. Before spreadsheets, accountants used to use a special book for keeping records which were called analysis papers. The paper inside these books used extra-wide rows and columns to allow the accountants to write in the figures to be calculated.

In the early 1960s, the concept of a spreadsheet was created by IBM that allowed numbers to be added in 2A sheet of columns and rows and automatically calculated. In order to use this spreadsheet, a special programming language code BCL or business computer language was developed.

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The type of spreadsheets that we are more familiar with today came much later on in 1979 with the invention of VisiCalc.

Visicalc used an interface that was termed a WYSIWYG (pronounced whizz– e-wig), meaning ‘what you see is what you get’. Visicalc was created by Dan Bricklin after watching his University professor writing up multiple calculations on a blackboard and occasionally getting these formulas incorrect despite being an excellent mathematician.

In this course we have been using Microsoft Excel which was originally created in 1985 and has gone through multiple changes, but is still used by many people to calculate and analyse financial figures.


Use the example in the video at the start of this lashing to update your own garden centre spreadsheet , using the currency formatting where appropriate.

Don’t forget to take screen captures of how you achieved this and add it into your notes document to allow you to reference this later and prepare for the final quiz of the course. Within your notes, write a short timeline of the different types of spreadsheet that have been available as software since that early invention in 1981.