The word VisiCalc is not in the Oxford English Dictionary as an entry, but it does appear in the quotations for the verb, download.

The term “spread sheet” predates VisiCalc. Popular usage led to the combining of the words into the new word spreadsheet. Early publications at Software Arts and Personal Software did not include the term. Nobody seems to remember if we referred to spreadsheets in our conversations at the time. Dan Bricklin used the working title Calculating Ledger in early program documentation.

Richard Mattesich has documented the history of the use of the term spread sheet dating back to 1952 for accounting and 1961 for computerized spread sheets.

Interesting extracts from the OED (CD version 3):

download, v.

(daUn"l@Ud, "daUn-)  [f. down adv. + load v.] 

   trans. To transfer (esp. software) from the storage of a larger system to that of a smaller one.

   1980 Electronic Design 4 Jan. 167/2 These programs are downloaded into the Microsystem Analyzer for debug and execution.  1982 Which Computer? June 25/3 The existing software+will be down-loaded onto the new machine.  1983 Austral. Microcomputer Mag. Aug. 71/1 Micromagic+allows IBM PC users to download data from IP Sharp's online databases to the PC's files in VisiCalc format.  1984 Daily Tel. 9 Jan. 9/2 MicroNet 800+offers several hundred programs that can be downloaded to a home computer over an ordinary telephone line.  1986 Sci. Amer. Feb. 15/1 Using chess knowledge (downloaded from the oracle) relevant to the current position, the module evaluates each board.  


("sprEdSi;t)  [f. spread ppl. a. + sheet n.1] 

   A program that allows any part of a rectangular array of positions or cells to be displayed on a VDU screen, with the contents of any cell able to be specified either independently or in terms of the contents of other cells.

   1982 Micro Software Mag. May-June 4/1 Software designers have used two distinct methods in their attempt to provide the perfect package for financial modelling on a microcomputer: dynamic on-screen spreadsheet calculations, and the more traditionally processed logic file.  1983 Daily Tel. 13 Aug. 18 A good spreadsheet will let you put in all your figures, then just press one specified key and do all the calculations at once producing your completed accounts.  


spreadsheet, n.  Add: Hence "spreadsheeting n., the provision or use of a spreadsheet program.

   1983 Philadelphia Inquirer 17 Apr. p9/2 Enough software for either word processing or electronic spreadsheeting.  1986 W. Safire in N.Y. Times Mag. 1 June 14/5 Some of the knowledge for achievementarithmetic, spreadsheeting, grammarcan be delegated to machines.  

   1984 Which Micro? Dec. 20/2 The four programs+consist of a wordprocessor, a spreadsheet, a data base manager and a business graphics designer.

   1985 Personal Computer World Feb. 13 (Advt.), 1-2-3 from Lotus, most popular spreadsheet, file management and business graphics program, is permanently built into the Portable.

   1985 Personal Computer World Feb. 177/3 The serious application with the highest number of potential uses for a low-cost plotter is the production of business graphics from the spreadsheet models.

   1985 Which Computer? Apr. 53/3 The word processor, for example, can leave space in a document for a bar chart produced by the spreadsheet.

   1989 PC World Oct. 62/3 Hundreds of software houses have written add-ons and add-ins for the spreadsheet.

© 2002 Oxford English Dictionary on CD Version 3.

Peter Jennings