Spreadsheet And Database Programs Computer Science Essay


A Spreadsheet is a document that contains data in the form of a table of vertical columns and horizontal rows. While a Spreadsheet program is the application that allow us to create and manipulate spreadsheets electronically. But usually we use spreadsheet for referring to both the document and the computer program.

Origin of Spreadsheets Applications

In 1961 Budgeting Models foresaw the concept of an electronic spreadsheet in the article Budgeting Models and System Simulation of Richard Mattessich.

We give the credit of inventing spreadsheets programs to Dan Bricklin, he is known as the "father" of spreadsheets.

While Dan Bricklin studied in Harvard Business School, one of his professors created a table of calculations in the board, when the professor found an error, he had to erase a great part of the table and recalculate everything. This gave Bricklin the idea of creating a computer program that eases the process.

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In 1979 Bricklin along with Robert Frankston created VisiCalc, which is known as the first spreadsheet program. It work on an Apple II computer, and this program was so popular that people bought the computer just to be able to use that program and since then the personal computers become a useful tool for businesses and companies.

In Spreadsheets a Cell is each intersection between a column and a row where the data can be introduced, basically each cell can holds three types of information, which are numbers, text, and formulas but we can also include functions, date and time.

Text: Normally the Spreadsheet program automatically aligns text in cells at the left, but the user can change the disposition. The text can be any alphanumeric chain of characters (and certain special characters, such as +, (,), #, $, etc.) if the text is larger than the cell, only the beginning of the text is shown but the user can change the size of the cells later.

Numbers: In most of the spreadsheets programs numbers are automatically align at the right.

Formulas: This are one of the parts that differences a spreadsheet from a simple table, formulas are used to perform automatic calculations, based on the values given in the other cells. Formulas are activated by typing the sign "=" in the formula bar, followed by the cells to be used in the operation.

If a value of a cell is changed the whole sheet is recalculated, this is one of the most compelling reason that turn spreadsheets in such a useful tool from the beginning.

Columns are labeled using letters (A, B, C, D...) while rows are labeled with numbers (1, 2, 3, 4…) therefore we could have cell A1, A2, B1, and so on.

This is how a Spreadsheet looks like nowadays:


A worksheet is a collection of cells grouped on a single sheet of the document, this way you can have different tables on the same layer, and establish formulas and relationships between the tables. Worksheets are like pages, it lets you organize the information in manageable groups.

Some Important Spreadsheets Programs

After VisiCalc appeared, the sales of the Apple II improved significantly, for this reason some other companies gain interest in this area and started developing their own application, some of the past and the present are:

Lotus 1-2-3

This program was released in 1983 by Lotus Software for the IBM PC, by this was the first spreadsheet program to introduce range between rows and columns and macros for templates, Lotus 1-2-3 is also the first spreadsheet program that allow the user to make graphics and databases.

Microsoft Excel

Excel is developed by Microsoft and nowadays is the most common spreadsheet program. Excel was important in the evolution of spreadsheets because it was the first spreadsheet program to use drop-down menus and to allow the user to click with the mouse. Excel was originally developed for Apple Macintosh between 1984 and 1985 but then with the arrival of Windows Excel was available in both Mac and Windows PCs. Excel is part of the Microsoft Office Suite.


Previously referred as OpenCalc, is the spreadsheet program of OpenOffice.org software package, Calc is an open source program, completely free and cross-platform. Calc include some interesting features such as the ability to create formulas based on words rather than variables. Anyway this program has received several criticisms about its performance in the past, but is still an important alternative to Microsoft Excel.


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Is the spreadsheet program developed by Apple Inc. in 2007, which makes it one of the newest spreadsheets programs, Numbers is exclusively for Mac OS X and is part iWork software package. Numbers include several improves specially in the user interface, as usual in Apple applications, and allows a better control over the presentation and appearance of the data in the tables, also allows a good amount of possibilities for creating graphics with the spreadsheets.

Google Docs & Spreadsheets

Is one of the more recently created, is developed by Google and is a web-based free program for creating documents online, not only a spreadsheet but also a word processor, form, presentation and drawing program. One of the more important features of Google Docs & Spreadsheets is that it allows collaborating with other users in real-time.

As we can see there is variety in the market, these spreadsheets have several differences in the user interface and some features but all of them cover the same user needs.

Thanks to the versatility of modern spreadsheets, sometimes these are used to make small databases, but of course there are fully dedicated programs for doing so.


A Database is a collection of related data, use for organize, store and access a large amount of information easily. Thanks to the technology of modern computers, most of the databases are in digital form, this is a great advance because for example a library can be consider a database, and all the information in a library now can be accessed in a modern computer.

The information in a database can be easily updated, requested, organized or moved and are usually stored in secured hard drives and managed using some software.

The software used to store, organize and retrieve the information is called DBMS (Database Management System), but we usually use the word database for both, the collection of data and the software. DBMS allow the database administrator to access the data.

A DBMS is an application that provides access, storage, backup and security to the database. DBMS are often categorized according to their model such as XML or relational, the type of computer they support or their query language, like XQuery or SQL. Some DBMS can have more than one category, because for instance they supporting multiple query languages. Almost all DBMS comes with a driver called Open Database Connectivity, which allows integrating one database with others.

Origin of Databases

Databases were born out of the necessity of many industries of store large amounts of data for future reference. At first all the information used to be stored in huge books, written in tons of paper. This was obviously very complex and slow and a simple update would mean to modify each page where the information appeared. Also a lot of information was usually lost by the effect of damaged papers. Not to mention that it needed a large space to manage and store all the information.

One example was the United States census of 1880, for getting the results it took seven years, but in 1884 Herman Hollerith developed a mechanical tabulator based in punched cards that help with the 1890 census, getting the results in two and a half years, where you could get important data about the number of births, number of children and families.

The current databases originated in 1960 - 1962. The first Databases operated card indexes that were kept in cards or magnetic tapes. When computers evolve, then appeared tapes and records, it is therefore at that moment when databases begin to be really useful.

Each database consists in one or more tables that store a set of data. Each table has one or more columns and rows. The column bear a part of the information on each item you want to save in the table, each row table constitutes a record.

Information is entered into the database via fields. Each field holds a separate piece of information, and the fields are grouped together in records. Therefore, a record about an employee might consist of several fields which give their name, address, phone number, date of birth, salary and length of employment with the company.

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Records are also grouped together into files which hold large amounts of information. Files can easily be updated; you can always change fields, add new records or delete old ones. An electronic database is much faster to consult and update than a card index system and occupies a lot less space. With the right software, you can keep track of stock, sales, market trends, orders and other information that can help your company stay successful.

A DBMS lets you create an index (a list of records ordered according to the content of certain fields. A database query function allows you extract information according to certain conditions or criteria. For example, if a managing director wanted to know all the customers that spend more than $8,000 per month, the program would search on the name field and the money field simultaneous.

Database architecture has three levels which are external, internal and conceptual level.

The external level: Determine how the user conceives the organization of the data. A database can have several views at the external level.

The internal level: Specifies how the data is physically stored and processed by the computer. This architecture is related with performance, cost and others operational matters.

The conceptual level: Is a level of indirection between internal and external. It provides a common view of the database that is easy to understand its details of how the data is stored or managed, and that can incorporate the external views into a coherent whole.

Databases Models

The model of a database determines how data can be stored, organized and manipulated in a DBMS. It thereby defines the infrastructure offered by a particular DBMS. The most used model is the relational model. Common models include:

Hierarchical model

Network model

Relational model


Object-relational model

Object model



The history of dBase began around the middle of 1960 like a system called RETRIEVE. This system was used, among others, by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, that the development of his own version of RETRIEVE to one of its programmers, Jeb Long. The result was a system called JPLDIS. DBase's original creator was Wayne Ratliff. In 1978, during your sojourn in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Ratliff wrote a base program of data in assembler for computers with operating system.


Visual FoxPro comes from FoxPro, created for Fox Technologies in 1984. (FoxBASE Professional's acronym) it is an object-oriented programming language, that at the same time is a Database Management System (DBMS), published originally for Fox Software and later for Microsoft, for the operating systems MS two, MS Windows, Mac OS and UNI-X.

Microsoft Access:

Microsoft Access is a database developed by Microsoft, it is part of the Microsoft Office Suite, and is used more likely for relatively small databases. The first Microsoft Access, version 1, 0, was determined by Microsoft in November 1987. Rapidly, in June 1993, the Access released other 1, 1 for best compatibility with other products of Microsoft and including the programming language Access Basic.


This is database is a GPL licensed based on a server. It is characterized by its speed. Anyway it is not recommended to be used for large volumes of data.


Is an object-relational DBMS developed by Oracle Corporation, it allows to manage very large amounts of data and are often use for intranets and large caliber systems.

Microsoft SQL Server:

It's a database developed by Microsoft, it is more powerful than Microsoft Access, and its use more for companies for managing a large amount of information.

Some of the features of modern DBMS are:

Logical and physical independence of the data.

Minimum redundancy

Concurrent access by multiple users.

The integrity of the data.

Security, backup and recovery.

Databases are used daily by almost every industry worldwide. Now we can have access to an amazing amount of data via internet, and we have computer programs to create them, which makes easier to learn things and keep records of the things that happened.