What Is an Electronic Spreadsheet?

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An spreadsheet is a computer application that displays and organizes data. Each data is stored in a cell of a worksheet and can be manipulated using formulas to calculate or change the data in other cells. The spreadsheet originated as an electronic equivalent of a paper accounting worksheet.

Electronic spreadsheets are primarily used to store and organize financial and statistical information, such as income statements, balance sheets, and frequency distribution tables. Because of their built-in formulas, spreadsheets let users calculate and readjust numerical results much faster than using traditional pen and paper. Data stored in spreadsheets can also be rearranged to highlight specific information when printed or incorporated into presentations or other documents.

The first electronic spreadsheet to be hosted on a computer was named LANPAR, and was created in 1969. VisiCalc, the first electronic spreadsheet to be hosted on a personal computer, helped the Apple II computer gain popularity. Currently Excel is the most popular spreadsheet program available.