What a strange question.

Or is it?

Let me explain. Back in the days at uni I had a Sinclair Cambridge calculator. A tiny dark grey piece of plastic my friends called the ‘flasher’. It had red numbers. It was the cheapest and smallest calculator you could buy. It was £32.

For a few £s more there was the Sinclair Executive. That had a memory; though it could remember only one number. You could use it to remember some intermediate value in a calculation and recall it.

The Sinclair Programmable came a bit later. It was the bees knees! It could both remember numbers and remember how you did the calculation.

Now, why am I taking a trip on a memory lane? (LOL)

That was in the mid-1970s. In the late 70s we had the electronic spreadsheet. Which, to be fair, was promoted as a massive calculator. The rest is history.

But, here’s the thing.

At what point did we decide that having memory, the ability to remember data, and be able to recall it from memory in spreadsheets, is unnecessary?

At what point did we decide that being able to program our process is unnecessary?

And who made that decision?

Memory, in Excel

The fact is, Excel also has memory. And at a massive scale. Unlike the Sinclair Executive, it has as many memory locations as we need. And we can name them as we please. And we can recall what’s in that memory in many more ways than the old calculators.

Let me show you.

Here’s a sheet with a range of data. On the right is a line of code.

[TBA: Image]

myPieceOfMemory = Range(“D4:H10”).Value

When I run that, Excel put the data that’s in that range into memory, identified as myPieceOfMemory (call it anything you like, eg. dog)

We can recall it, for instance, by pasting it on another position on this sheet, or any other sheet.

Range(“D12:H18”).Value = myPieceOfMemory

Or if we select another sheet it will be pasted there.

Not only is Excel’s memory much more versatile in terms of the amount of memory (limited only by the memory on your machine) there’s a huge variety of things we can do with it.

‘Reimagine Excel’ draws upon this idea of memory, and recalling it, as a key concept.

In the series ‘WTF to OMG!‘ you will see this applied in some common scenarios that you find in any organisation. Such as yours!


But a good topic for discussion is, who and why did we stop thinking of memory?

Is it because we (arrogantly) thought, or decided, that we don’t need to store things in memory when we work with Excel?

Care to put it to the test?

Hiran de Silva

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