Excel 1.0, 1.5, 2.x

Microsoft originally marketed a spreadsheet program called Multiplan in 1982. Multiplan became very popular on CP/M systems, but on MS-DOS systems it lost popularity to Lotus 1-2-3. Microsoft released the first version of Excel for the Macintosh on September 30, 1985, and the first Windows version was 2.05 (to synchronize with the Macintosh version 2.2) in November 1987. Lotus was slow to bring 1-2-3 to Windows and by 1988 Excel had started to outsell 1-2-3 and helped Microsoft achieve the position of leading PC software developer. This accomplishment, dethroning the king of the software world, solidified Microsoft as a valid competitor and showed its future of developing GUI software. Microsoft pushed its advantage with regular new releases, every two years or so.
Early in 1993 Excel became the target of a trademark lawsuit by another company already selling a software package named "Excel" in the finance industry. As the result of the dispute Microsoft had to refer to the program as "Microsoft Excel" in all of its formal press releases and legal documents. However, over time this practice has been ignored, and Microsoft cleared up the issue permanently when they purchased the trademark of the other program. Microsoft also encouraged the use of the letters XL as shorthand for the program; while this is no longer common, the program's icon on Windows (before Excel 2013) still consists of a stylized combination of the two letters, and the file extension of the default Excel format is .xls (.xlsx in newer versions).
Excel offers many user interface tweaks over the earliest electronic spreadsheets; however, the essence remains the same as in the original spreadsheet software, VisiCalc: the program displays cells organized in rows and columns, and each cell may contain data or a formula, with relative or absolute references to other cells.
Excel became the first spreadsheet to allow the user to define the appearance of spreadsheets (fonts, character attributes and cell appearance). It also introduced intelligent cell recomputation, where only cells dependent on the cell being modified are updated (previous spreadsheet programs recomputed everything all the time or waited for a specific user command). Excel also introduced extensive graphing capabilities.
From its first version Excel supported end user programming of macros (automation of repetitive tasks) and user defined functions (extension of Excel's built-in function library). In early versions of Excel these programs were written in a macro language whose statements had formula syntax and resided in the cells of special purpose macro sheets (stored with file extension .XLM in Windows.) XLM was the default macro language for Excel through Excel 4.0. Beginning with version 5.0 Excel recorded macros in VBA by default but with version 5.0 XLM recording was still allowed as an option. After version 5.0 that option has been discontinued. All versions of Excel, including Excel 2010 are capable of running an XLM macro, though Microsoft discourages their use.

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