Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Today is Spreadsheet Day

17 October is Spreadsheet Day.

I have to give this one a mention as I got hooked on spreadsheets almost on the day they were made let loose on the world.

I can’t even remember the first one I used, but I did have an Apple II, and a PC clone way back at the start, and they were so new I couldn’t even get the boss to fork out the cash to buy the software – I had to buy my OWN software in order to be able to run it on the clone.

Even that clone PC wasn’t ‘ours’ and I had commandeered it as it lay idle and unused for 99% of the year.

We had been given it as the host for an IEEE-488 controller for a laser-based and highly accurate length measuring system used for calibrating things like machine tools. However, there was only a handful of such tools that this was needed for, so the whole system sat and gathered dust for the rest of the year, until it was needed.

However, after a while the bosses realised I was doing more than privileged staff who had assistants and secretaries.

I added a word processor, commandeered the printer as well, and was able to turn out calculations, letters, documents, reports etc before my esteemed bosses had managed to hand their stuff to their secretary/typist, correct it, and then have it all typed again. I just had to get things right on the screen, then print once.

They soon caught on though, and I got to spend tens of thousands on things like networked PCs and printers, plus word-processing software, spreadsheets, and eventually (just for me) databases.

All sprouting from my own desire to use a spreadsheet at work to make my own life easier.

The one downside of the spreadsheet’s arrival, for me at least, was the demise of the programmable calculator, or even just using an ordinary calculator – the spreadsheet just rendered it useless since it doesn’t need a whole set of keystrokes to be repeated if you make a mistake, or just have to do repeated calculations.

I’d been using the HP-41C to good effect, with printer, cards, and other external goodies.

But, although I continued to use mine as a portable data terminal and pocket computer, its days were numbered, as the PC could do the same, and not just one line at a time.





17/10/2018 - Posted by | Civilian |

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