By Mark Winegar updated on 12/28/2012
"The hard part of feature design... what to leave out." - Dan Bricklin
Numbers is one of the most useful and powerful applications you'll use on your Mac, iPad, and iPhone. It is the spreadsheeting component of Apples's office productivity suite iWorks.
The first spreadsheet program VisiCalc was invented by Dan Bricklin (pictured) and Bob Frankston. It was released in 1979 for the Apple II but was quickly ported over for other computers including the TRS-80. Bricklin was studying for a Masters in Business Administration at the Harvard Business School when he envisioned an alternative to the accountants paper spreadsheets. VisiCalc quickly became the industry's first "killer app"! His idea was quickly copied by competitors including Lotus 1-2-3 and Quattro Pro and is the basis of current speadsheet software.
So what is Numbers? It's the latest spreadsheet program from Apple. But that is only part of the answer.
It is a number-crunching program. While it processes text and numbers it's real power is in performing calculations quickly and accurately.
It is also a modeling program. It allows you to create a numeric model of reality as you percieve it and play with variables to see how they might affect outcomes. For instance, marketing executives can see how an increase in advertising might impact profit. Or doctors might use it to see the effect of changing dosages. Engineers use it to see what impact design changes have on performance. Teachers can use it to track students grades. Bookkeepers use it for bookkeeping, what else? The list goes on...
Now, thanks to the folks at Apple, we can create a speadsheet on a Mac and store it locally and on iCloud to share with others. We can view and edit spreadsheets on our iPhones and iPads. We can email them to co-workers. We can even share them with those poor folk still using Microsoft Office and Excel!
Numbers on an iPhone?
There are a number of handy templates you can use.
The Checklist template is handy for shopping lists. You need your shopping list most when you are in the store and your Mac is just to heavy and awkward to carry around. Use Numbers on your iPhone to manage your shopping.
The Auto Log template is handy for tracking all of your car related activities including milage and oil changes. So where is your Mac when you visit the gas station? At home. But your iPhone is in your purse or pocket. Get the idea?
There are also templates for Weight Loss & Running Logs, Attendance, Stats Labs, Expense Reports, and more... And if you can't find a template to fit your needs you can create your own.
Yes, you can create them on your iPad and iPhone but I prefer to use a Mac for it's comfortable keyboard. But first you have to learn how to use Numbers to create spreadsheets. Its easy if you've used any of the spreadsheet programs available over the past 30+ years. Just do it! If not, I'm working on a new self-paced course on Numbers for Udemy which will be available very soon. I'll post the link here ASAP.
Here is a sample of the course material.