Around 1980 I played with my (and the) first spreadsheet called VisiCalc, on an Apple II. This was one great piece of software, finally showing the full potential of personal computers. Lotus then developed Lotus 1-2-3. This became the household name for spreadsheets (and graphs). Then Microsoft arrived on the scene. Their first spreadsheet 'Multiplan' ran with a graphical interface on Macintosh as of 1985. As I partially worked for an Apple dealer as an instructor, I gave numerous courses in Multiplan. Excel was born (for Mac) in 1985. Initially, I wasn't a big user of Excel, but I had read the manual thoroughly (most people didn't bother to read manuals in those days), so I trained many people. I still do sometimes. My problem is, that 'basic' courses soon become tiresome and are no longer challenging. I still prefer doing 'advanced' sessions.
The first thing I did (and still do) when giving any Excel training, is to 'test' my 'pupils' with 'Pascal's Triangle'. I give them 15 minutes (and later show them how to do it in 1!), to mimic, as efficient as possible, the following:
Image:How I got into: Excel
I challenge you to give it a try without peeking at my solution first.

In 1987 I co-founded Gnosis. We developed a product called 'SequeLink', a middleware product to allow access from a front-end to almost any relational database. I build many front-ends (e.g. for HyperCard, 4th Dimension), including a product called 'Report Engine' for Excel. A very powerful tool to give direct access to data in an RDBMS, right from within Excel. This was written in Excel Macro language. I still prefer the macro-language above VBA (that made its appearance many years later).

A funny thing happened when I was at an Apple Newton development conference in San Francisco: I was sitting at the bar one evening, and began to chat with a guy sitting next to me. I was a beta tester for Excel 5 at that time, and I started bragging about this cool new feature called 'Pivotable'. He was very interested and he kept on asking questions about it. Afterwards he told me he was the lead-designer for PivotTables in Excel !

I still do a lot of Excel consulting. Often integrated with Lotus Notes. My greatest joy is discovering a new feature in Excel. I'm eager to learn about the gems in Excel 2007. If a days only had 30 hours !

This is the first in a planned 'How I got into'-series. In the pipeline: Lotus Notes, Wine, Computers, Development.

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