Spreadsheets are among the most common types of computer software used by people working in epidemiology and public health. When desktop computers were introduced in the late 1970s, the first ‘killer app’ (‘killer application,’ i.e., the software that everyone wants to have) was the spreadsheet. Visicalc, the first major spreadsheet application, was so useful that it justified the purchase of a computer. For people working in fields such as statistical analysis, scientific research, economics, and finance, the ability to easily manipulate large amounts of numerical data presented an immense advantage over manual methods. The consequent time and cost savings easily paid back the investment in a desktop (or ‘personal’) computer. In fact, spreadsheet software quickly became so popular that it helped establish the notion ...

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