The 20 Best Spreadsheet Quotes

Life with Spreadsheets
December 14, 2018

In GRID’s deep dive into the world of spreadsheets, we’ve come across a lot of insightful, witty and sometimes somewhat distressing quotes. Here are some of our favorites.

Stop Spreading Sheet About Me…

“When you start to EXCEL. People start to SPREADSHEET.” — Keneilwe Mosupye, Twitter

Spreadsheets Run the World

As I believe we’ve already told you

“It’s Excel’s world, we just live in it.” — jgalt212 on HackerNews

“To be an accountant in the age of spreadsheet program is — well, almost sexy.” — Steven Levy in “A Spreadsheet Way of Knowledge” (1984)

“Nobody sets out to create a mission critical spreadsheet, they ‘just happen’. ” — Felienne Hermans in “Analyzing and visualizing spreadsheets

“The whole world runs on Excel. Name a data-intensive critical industry: deep-sea oil drilling? Power grid management? International finance? All powered by Excel at critical junctures.” — ng12 on HackerNews

“The global economy is built on two things: the internal combustion engine and Microsoft Excel. Never forget this.” — Kevin Hector, Twitter

Spreadsheets as a Way to Think and Communicate

“Spreadsheets are corporate poetry; when constructed elegantly enough, they can be used to communicate sophisticated ideas to audiences who wouldn’t otherwise be receptive to details.” — Eric Seufert, “Freemium Economics: Leveraging Analytics and User Segmentation to Drive Revenue (The Savvy Manager’s Guides)

“The best tool available today for exploring real-life questions of quantity and change is the spreadsheet.” — Bret Victor, “Kill Math

“VisiCalc represented a new idea of a way to use a computer and a new way of thinking about the world. Where conventional programming was thought of as a sequence of steps, this new thing was no longer sequential in effect: When you made a change in one place, all other things changed instantly and automatically.” — Ted Nelson, The Whole Earth Software Catalog

Spreadsheets are a … Religion?

“A virtual cult of the spreadsheet has formed, complete with gurus and initiates, detailed lore, arcane rituals — and an unshakable belief that the way the world works can be embodied in rows and columns of numbers and formulas.” — Steven Levy in “A Spreadsheet Way of Knowledge” (1984)

Spreadsheets’ Role in Computer History

It’s bigger than you might have thought

“Microsoft Excel is one of the greatest, most powerful, most important software applications of all time.” — James Kwak, “The Importance of Excel

“The Apple IIc, with its 128KB of RAM, 125KB floppy drive, word processor, and spreadsheet application, did everything I could imagine a computer doing at the time.” — Andrew Rosenthal, “Steven Paul Jobs

“Microsoft has had two goals in the last 10 years. One was to copy the Mac, and the other was to copy Lotus’ success in the spreadsheet — basically, the applications business. And over the course of the last 10 years, Microsoft accomplished both of those goals. And now they are completely lost.” — Steve Jobs

“VisiCalc…propelled…the success [of Apple] more than any other single event.” … “If VisiCalc had been written for some other computer [than the Apple II] you would be interviewing someone else right now.” — Steve Jobs, “Interview in Documentary: Society and Computer” (1996)

Spreadsheets are Programs

We keep tellin’ ya:

“Spreadsheets are code.” — Felienne Hermans, presentation

“Excel is the best tool non programmers have in order to write code, that’s why it wins.” — antirez on HackerNews

Nobody Puts Spreadsheet in a Corner

“Whatever you think of the spreadsheet don’t dismiss it as trivial.” — Mike James, “Spreadsheets are special

“It seems like everyone wants to make a contribution [in machine learning]. I’m like, you go for it — I’m going to be over here getting data out of Excel spreadsheets.” — Jenny Bryan, “.rprofile: Jenny Bryan

You Said So!

After all, spreadsheets are many startup’s biggest competitors.

“Many startups are a nicely designed version of an Excel built-in template.” — davidivadavid on HackerNews

“Looking for a SaaS idea? Ask random people in a target industry what kinds of things they do with Excel.” — aytekin on HackerNews

Do you have a favorite spreadsheet quote? Comment below or tweet us with #spreadsheetquotes

Hjalmar Gislason

Founder and CEO of GRID. Curious about data, technology, media, the universe and everything. Founder of 5 software companies.

About GRID

GRID gives spreadsheets wings. A Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) startup, GRID’s user-friendly software empowers people to turn any spreadsheet into a beautiful web report, dashboard or interactive application.

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