To millions of people around the world a spreadsheet simply means Microsoft Excel, a vital tool on which they rely every day.But for one man, spreadsheets are the reason for his new World Records title as he now owns the Largest collection of physical spreadsheet software.
Nowadays such programs are downloadable or online thanks to the likes of Microsoft Office or Google Sheets, but Ariel Fischman from Mexico City has spent years collecting various hard copies of previous generations with the total number adding up to 506.
The corporate financial advisor started his quest after he began researching the history of a program which is now used on a daily basis.
“I began using and collecting spreadsheets many years ago, and I realised no-one else had seriously attempted to collect as many spreadsheets as possible and simultaneously research the history of each item, which I have also done,” says Ariel.
His collection covers the 40-year history of the spreadsheet, with hundreds of boxes and manuals containing examples dating back to the late 1970s when the first software was appearing.
This includes programs produced by the likes of Microsoft (including early examples of Excel as well as its predecessor, Microsoft Multiplan), Apple and IBM but other lesser-known varieties by companies such as Boeing (the plane manufacturer) and the BBC.
“Items worth noting are the beta versions of Excel, for instance, as they are evidence of the original efforts to produce the program that we now know, 33 years later, became the most widely-used productivity tool in the history of computing and business.”
So what’s the formula to finding all these examples?
In an interview with American business magazine, Fast Company, Ariel said he’s bought a lot of items on eBay as well as contacting those who compiled magazine reviews of the software in the 1980s and ’90s.
He told Fast Company: “There are some that have cost me a lot of money. One person that I bought a few items from owns a lot of software from the first half of the ’80s.
“She has things I haven’t been able to find anywhere else, and she’s conscious of the imbalance between supply and demand. Not that the demand is so high, but even one person is demand, and that would be me.
“I’ve paid close to four figures for some items.”
The collection now resides in his office at 414 Capital in Mexico City.