The history of Spreadsheets is fascinating, from Richard Mattessich who in 1972 wrote the article "Budgeting Models and System Simulation" creating the concept, to Pardo and Landau, who tried to obtain a Patent.

But the renowned inventor of Spreadsheets is Dan Bricklin, with his VisiCalc, which was available since 1979 and was, let's say, the first and most important computing tool in the hands of anyone when it was implemented for the first computer that we can call "personal".

I know that the vast majority of the family of IT professionals does not consider Spreadsheets as a Programming Language, for example, when Wikipedia says:

"A programming language is a formal language that provides a series of instructions that allow a programmer to write sequences of commands and algorithms in order to control the physical and logical behavior of a computer in order to produce various kinds of data."

Or they do not even include Spreadsheets within the more comprehensive concept of Computer Language, which following Wikipedia:

"A computer language is a language used by, or associated with, computers."

But I, from a Programmer origin closely linked to Neurosciences and cognitive and "mental" processes in general, consider that the process of concrete and applied creation of a spreadsheet constitutes a type of visual programming where the language used is not formally defined neither follows grammatical rules nor algorithms are programmed in the "traditional" way but that ultimately allows anyone without knowledge or training in the processes of creating Programs to develop final applications in their field of expertise.

I have seen Spreadsheets made by cardiologists for the analysis, diagnosis, and monitoring of problems of the cardiovascular system where those cardiologists do not have the slightest idea of programming in languages like C#, Java, or any other of the already almost endless list of languages.

And what about the huge network of economic and financial applications built directly by accountants, technicians, and professionals in these fields? See for example the "European Spreadsheet Risk Interest Group" or EuSpRIG.

Spreadsheets were not only one of the main factors in the revolution brought about by Personal Computers, but they have been fundamental in shortening the software development cycle.

Why do I say this? Because it takes a lot of time and effort between a professional or a group of professionals in a subject explaining to a programmer or a group of programmers what needs to be done in particular of that subject, until the program or program systems are finished and "ready".

In fact, in the meantime, many times the group of experts has had to develop "provisionally", Spreadsheets to supply the delivery of programs developed by others, and that experience on many occasions leads them to change specifications to the programmers and that it is sometimes very difficult to incorporate them into programs still under development.

Currently, it is no longer possible to speak only of Spreadsheets, as if they were isolated from everything else when they have, in my understanding, the most complete system of connections, links, and import of all computer applications, both among their own Spreadsheets as with, for example, Databases, text files, and many many others.

All these things keep happening, so Blessed Spreadsheets!

And that Neuroscientists, Mathematicians and others "break their heads" understanding the mental processes that allow Spreadsheets so much power of "Programming".

Octavio Báez Hidalgo.

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