First Spreadsheet Dashboard

In the past, we’ve noted that the first computer-based business dashboard was generated by a computer named LEO. It printed out a dashboard report showing payroll statistics for the Lyons Tea Shops in the 1940s. The computer was room-sized and contained over 3000 vacuum tubes. For the full story, see the book A Computer Called Leo.

Today, we look at the question, “What was the first business dashboard for the personal computer?”. Well thanks go to veteran dashboarder, Charley Kyd, for writing me with his story of his Lotus 1-2-3 dashboard reports from 1984. Believed to be the earliest PC-based spreadsheet dashboards, they are still impactful today.

According to Charley:

I’m sure that my Lotus mini-graph reports were the first dashboard reports ever created for spreadsheets. And because there was very little management software available back then, they probably were the first dashboard reports created for personal computers.

To put this thought in its proper perspective, that distinction plus $1.95 might buy me a cup of coffee today.

Let’s take a look at a couple of screenshots. These come from Charley Kyd’s first book Financial Modeling Using Lotus 1-2-3 (1986, Sybex).

First PC Spreadsheet Dashboard

Click the “see more” link to view more screenshots of this dashboard:

Zooming into a section of the dashboard where metrics are measured (today, it would look like the familiar KPI portlet with red/yellow/green indicators), we see this very interesting screenshot:

First PC-based Business Dashboard

And take a look at this early accounts payable management dashboard:

early accounts management dashboard using lotus 123

Thanks Charley!

Can anyone else dig up their early dashboard reports? What was your first dashboard report?

Tags: First Business Dashboard, Early dashboarding, Excel dashboard, Lotus dashboards, Spreadsheet Dashboard Reports

3 thoughts on “First Spreadsheet Dashboard

  1. These are pretty impressive & neat to see!

    But, of course, the definitive statement “I’m sure that my Lotus mini-graph reports were the first dashboard reports ever created for spreadsheets” might be a bit of a stretch :)

    There were a lot of very clever people trying to get the most out of their PCs & Spreadhseets back-in-the-day, and I’d bet there were some other early spreadsheet “dashboards” (using either Lotus 123, or maybe even Visicalc). And companies were probably even more “secretive” about them back then, than they are now, so it’s possible that lots of things like this existed, but nobody except the very few people using them ever got to see them.

  2. Thanks!

    That was a nice little tour around the origins of dashboarding by spreadsheet (regardless of whether it was really the first!)

    It’s interesting that until Microcharts came along in 2006, in all reality, excel was not much more advanced for small scale charting.

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