How old is VLOOKUP?

%3CLINGO-SUB%20id%3D%22lingo-sub-1557352%22%20slang%3D%22en-US%22%3EHow%20old%20is%20VLOOKUP%3F%3C%2FLINGO-SUB%3E%3CLINGO-BODY%20id%3D%22lingo-body-1557352%22%20slang%3D%22en-US%22%3E%3CP%3ETo%20this%20day%2C%20I%20still%20get%20requests%20for%20help%20using%20VLOOKUP%20and%20see%20new%20blog%20posts%20teaching%20basic%20usage.%20Given%20the%20improvement%20with%20XLOOKUP%2C%20I'm%20wondering%20just%20how%20long%20VLOOKUP%20has%20been%20around.%20Excel%2095%3F%20Excel%204.0%3F%20I%20just%20don't%20know%20and%20haven't%20found%20function%20reference%20lists%20that%20old.%20Would%20like%20to%20use%20that%20as%20a%20story%20point%20for%20change%20management.%3C%2FP%3E%3C%2FLINGO-BODY%3E%3CLINGO-LABS%20id%3D%22lingo-labs-1557352%22%20slang%3D%22en-US%22%3E%3CLINGO-LABEL%3EExcel%3C%2FLINGO-LABEL%3E%3CLINGO-LABEL%3EFormulas%20and%20Functions%3C%2FLINGO-LABEL%3E%3C%2FLINGO-LABS%3E%3CLINGO-SUB%20id%3D%22lingo-sub-1557389%22%20slang%3D%22en-US%22%3ERe%3A%20How%20old%20is%20VLOOKUP%3F%3C%2FLINGO-SUB%3E%3CLINGO-BODY%20id%3D%22lingo-body-1557389%22%20slang%3D%22en-US%22%3E%3CP%3EHa!%20Found%20the%20answer%20immediately%20after%20posting%20in%26nbsp%3B%3CA%20href%3D%22https%3A%2F%2Ftechcommunity.microsoft.com%2Ft5%2Fuser%2Fviewprofilepage%2Fuser-id%2F9664%22%20target%3D%22_blank%22%3E%40Joe%20McDaid%3C%2FA%3E's%20post%20on%26nbsp%3B%3CA%20href%3D%22https%3A%2F%2Ftechcommunity.microsoft.com%2Ft5%2Fexcel-blog%2Fannouncing-xlookup%2Fba-p%2F811376%22%20target%3D%22_self%22%3EAnnouncing%20XLOOKUP%3C%2FA%3E.%3C%2FP%3E%3CP%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%3CP%3EAccording%20to%20Joe%2C%20%22%3CSPAN%3EVLOOKUP%20has%20been%20with%20Excel%20from%20the%20beginning%3B%20it%20was%20included%20in%20Excel%201%20for%20Macintosh%20released%20in%201985.%20For%2035%20years%2C%20VLOOKUP%20has%20been%20the%20first%20lookup%20function%20learned%20by%20Excel%20users%20and%20our%203rd%20most%20used%20function%20(after%20SUM%20and%20AVERAGE).%22%3C%2FSPAN%3E%3C%2FP%3E%3CP%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%3CP%3E%3CSPAN%3E35%20years%20for%20Mac!%2033%20years%20for%20Windows!%3C%2FSPAN%3E%3C%2FP%3E%3C%2FLINGO-BODY%3E%3CLINGO-SUB%20id%3D%22lingo-sub-1557497%22%20slang%3D%22en-US%22%3ERe%3A%20How%20old%20is%20VLOOKUP%3F%3C%2FLINGO-SUB%3E%3CLINGO-BODY%20id%3D%22lingo-body-1557497%22%20slang%3D%22en-US%22%3E%3CP%3E%3CA%20href%3D%22https%3A%2F%2Ftechcommunity.microsoft.com%2Ft5%2Fuser%2Fviewprofilepage%2Fuser-id%2F745366%22%20target%3D%22_blank%22%3E%40ExcelTL%3C%2FA%3E%26nbsp%3BIt's%20actually%20a%20little%20older%2C%20that's%20when%20it%20arrived%20in%20Excel.%3C%2FP%3E%0A%3CP%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%0A%3CP%3EI%20believe%20VLOOKUP%20first%20appeared%20in%20Lotus%201-2-3%20which%20predated%20Excel.%20According%20to%20Wikipedia%2C%20Lotus%201-2-3%20launched%20in%20January%201983%2C%20so%20VLOOKUP%20appeared%20sometime%20around%20then.%20VLOOKUP%20was%20actually%20the%20successor%20to%20the%20original%20lookup%20style%20function%2C%20LOOKUP()%2C%20which%20first%20appeared%20in%20VisiCalc%20in%201979.%20LOOKUP%20was%20created%20to%20help%20with%20Bob%20Frankston's%20tax%20return.%20You%20can%20read%20about%20it%20%5B%23%24dp4%5D%3CA%20href%3D%22https%3A%2F%2Frmf.vc%2Fimplementingvisicalc%22%20target%3D%22_self%22%20rel%3D%22nofollow%20noopener%20noreferrer%20noopener%20noreferrer%20noopener%20noreferrer%20noopener%20noreferrer%20noopener%20noreferrer%22%3Ehere%3C%2FA%3E.%3C%2FP%3E%0A%3CP%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%0A%3CP%3ELOOKUP%20and%20VLOOKUP%20have%20an%20amazing%20history%2C%20dating%20all%20the%20way%20back%20to%20the%20very%20early%20days%20of%20spreadsheeting.%20Hats%20off%20to%20the%20early%20spreadsheet%20pioneers.%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%3C%2FLINGO-BODY%3E%3CLINGO-SUB%20id%3D%22lingo-sub-1557589%22%20slang%3D%22en-US%22%3ERe%3A%20How%20old%20is%20VLOOKUP%3F%3C%2FLINGO-SUB%3E%3CLINGO-BODY%20id%3D%22lingo-body-1557589%22%20slang%3D%22en-US%22%3E%3CP%3E%3CA%20href%3D%22https%3A%2F%2Ftechcommunity.microsoft.com%2Ft5%2Fuser%2Fviewprofilepage%2Fuser-id%2F9664%22%20target%3D%22_blank%22%3E%40Joe%20McDaid%3C%2FA%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%3CP%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%3CP%3EI%20can%20testify%20to%20personal%20experience%20using%20VLOOKUP%20with%20Lotus%201-2-3%20in%20spreadsheets%20in%20the%20time%20period%20of%201983-5.%20I%20was%20director%20of%20HR%20for%20a%20division%20of%20a%20major%20(Fortune%2050)%20corp......and%20one%20of%20the%20first%20computer%20geeks%20to%20get%20turned%20on%20to%20how%20easily%20one%20could%20do%20all%20kinds%20of%20fancy%20things%20for%20modeling%2C%20say%2C%20compensation%20plans.%20I%20can%20recall%20nesting%20an%20HLOOKUP%20within%20a%20VLOOKUP%20(or%20maybe%20it%20was%20the%20other%20way%20around)%2C%20doing%20some%20of%20the%20things%20that%20INDEX%20and%20MATCH%20can%20do........%3C%2FP%3E%3CP%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%3CP%3EI%20can%20also%20recall%20taking%20the%20user%20manuals%20home%20on%20the%20train%2C%20reading%20about%20every%20function%2C%20going%20%22Ah%20ha%2C%20that's%20an%20easier%20way%20to%20_________%22%20and%20thinking%20I%20can't%20wa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New Contributor

To this day, I still get requests for help using VLOOKUP and see new blog posts teaching basic usage. Given the improvement with XLOOKUP, I'm wondering just how long VLOOKUP has been around. Excel 95? Excel 4.0? I just don't know and haven't found function reference lists that old. Would like to use that as a story point for change management.

5 Replies
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Ha! Found the answer immediately after posting in @Joe McDaid's post on Announcing XLOOKUP.

 

According to Joe, "VLOOKUP has been with Excel from the beginning; it was included in Excel 1 for Macintosh released in 1985. For 35 years, VLOOKUP has been the first lookup function learned by Excel users and our 3rd most used function (after SUM and AVERAGE)."

 

35 years for Mac! 33 years for Windows!

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@ExcelTL It's actually a little older, that's when it arrived in Excel.

 

I believe VLOOKUP first appeared in Lotus 1-2-3 which predated Excel. According to Wikipedia, Lotus 1-2-3 launched in January 1983, so VLOOKUP appeared sometime around then. VLOOKUP was actually the successor to the original lookup style function, LOOKUP(), which first appeared in VisiCalc in 1979. LOOKUP was created to help with Bob Frankston's tax return. You can read about it here.

 

LOOKUP and VLOOKUP have an amazing history, dating all the way back to the very early days of spreadsheeting. Hats off to the early spreadsheet pioneers. 

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@Joe McDaid 

 

I can testify to personal experience using VLOOKUP with Lotus 1-2-3 in spreadsheets in the time period of 1983-5. I was director of HR for a division of a major (Fortune 50) corp......and one of the first computer geeks to get turned on to how easily one could do all kinds of fancy things for modeling, say, compensation plans. I can recall nesting an HLOOKUP within a VLOOKUP (or maybe it was the other way around), doing some of the things that INDEX and MATCH can do........

 

I can also recall taking the user manuals home on the train, reading about every function, going "Ah ha, that's an easier way to _________" and thinking I can't wait to get back to the office tomorrow to try it out on that big shared-around-the-office PC.

 

How things have changed.

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Just thought of a quick PS to my testimonial on VLOOKUP.

 

In 1971 I was working at the IBM Programming Center--where the compilers for Fortran and Cobol were written-- I was in the HR group for the location, but got friendly with some of the programmers. One of them taught me the basics of programming and I started doing my work on a teletype terminal (!!), writing routines that would run on the big system in the basement.

 

I taught myself APL (clever acronym for A Programming Language), a language that was really adept at multi-dimensional arrays. And I started writing routines then that would do some of the analyses that we had to perform....so that pre-dated even VisiCalc, and did involve learning how to address virtual cells in three- and four-dimensional (rarely needed more) arrays. I loved it!

 

VLOOKUP, XLOOKUP, INDEX, MATCH --- they're all child's play.

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@ExcelTL 

In this video Excel: Bill Jelen: "From 1979 -- VisiCalc and LOOKUP"! is the demo of how it worked. Interesting. Even if I had some limited experience with VisiCalc, I totally forgot how it was.