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Microsoft Multiplan v1.06

Company Microsoft
Distributor Microbyte
Year 1984
Packaging Cardboard file type case with sleeve box
Compatibility PCW 8256 - PCW 8512 - PCW 9512
Peripherals Keyboard
Load CP/M+
Gender Spreadsheet
Language English
Price Spain: 15,100 Pesetas
Status Preserved



Spreadsheets are one of the most powerful tools that computing puts at our disposal, with them repetitive calculation processes in the preparation of budgets, balance sheets, profit forecasts, cost calculation, etc., are reduced in an elegant way. to the introduction of values ​​and formulas, the computer carrying out the tedious calculation process.

All these situations have one point in common: the calculations, which to a greater or lesser extent, are dependent on each other; Thus, if one of the numbers involved in the calculation is altered, the entire series of operations must be changed so that the different results that depend on said number are correct. If the complexity is low, we will not have any problem in making all the changes that we consider appropriate, but if we are dealing with large projects, a change means redoing a large number of operations.

A spreadsheet becomes a grid sheet, which admits both texts, numbers and formulas within its cells. Its convenience is that you can relate the values ​​of some cells with those of others using any formula, and reflect the results in other cells. Changing the value of a cell, in one way or another, changes the value of the cells that depend on the first.

Consider a table divided into columns and rows. If at the intersection of each one of them we are going to place the different numbers that we must operate, and all the operations dependent on those written are carried out, we have the foundation of what a spreadsheet is. But we still have the inconvenience that, if the sheet has a respectable size, a variation in a number means altering a large number of results. But if we introduce that table into the computer and let it do the calculations, our work will decrease considerably. This is an electronic spreadsheet.

The power and effectiveness of a spreadsheet is given by the number of boxes it can handle and the calculations that can be made.

Based on these parameters, we have to say that the Microsoft blade is the most complete product available on the market for the Amstrad. Its possibilities and calculation capacity place it above any other sheet.

The Multiplan has a maximum capacity of 63 columns by 255 rows, which completes a total of 16,065 boxes, each of which can contain either text or numbers.

When working with Multiplan, the basic screen contains 20 rows of boxes, in which the number of columns can be adjusted up to a maximum of seven. At the bottom of the screen are the information lines.

The first one contains the command line, in which all the usable ones appear; just by pressing the initial, we will have on the screen the parameters that we have to use to use the command. Below this, we have the status information, in which we are given the position of the box in row and column and the information it has, in case that cell contains a formula, it will be shown. Behind this information is the percentage of free memory, which will be especially useful when working with a large number of boxes.

The movement between the different cells can be done horizontally or vertically, moving from box to box, page to page, or indicating the row and column to which we want to move.

When placing the values ​​within each cell, we have the possibility to align the figures to the right, to the left, center them and move the figures of the text.

The great power of Multiplan lies, without a doubt, in its calculation capacity; here we can say that Multiplan contains the widest range of existing calculation functions.

Spreadsheets are generally geared toward businesses, and for this reason only include the ability to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. On the contrary, Multiplan is endowed with endless arithmetic operations that make it ideal for scientific calculations.

Some of the most interesting operations are the following: absolute value, arctangent, mean, cosine, exponential function, natural logarithms, decimal logarithms, maximum, minimum, remainder, pi, sine, square root, standard deviation, reversal calculation, and tangent. As will be seen, a very complete range.

Other options are the insertion of cells, their displacement, being able to block the ones we need and the calculation at the touch of a key for the entire sheet.

Such a complete program necessarily has to be difficult to handle, the large number of possibilities and options makes the instruction book long and voluminous.

Multiplan is accompanied by a voluminous instruction book and those who want to understand Multiplan will have to deal hand in hand with a 420-page book, in which the operation of the blade is explained from top to bottom. The teaching begins with an example of a sheet for a company to which the necessary elements are gradually added; the method is good and in an hour we can get hold of the basic handling of it (the only defect, as always, is that the manual is in English, except for the first page of the book). On this page are the keys that are equivalent on our computer, to those indicated in said book, and the way to load the program. To get the most out of this sheet we will need to exhaust the entire book and spend at least three four-hour sessions. However, if you have worked with other spreadsheets, it is easy to accommodate to this one.

For the Spanish user, a quick consultation guide of 16 pages in Spanish is distributed with the program, in which the commands, codes, keys, orders and others appear with the task they perform.

A spreadsheet that can serve the financier as well as the scientist, very complete in all its aspects and with outstanding power and features.

Multiplan is a second generation spreadsheet. The first spreadsheets based their success on an excellent idea: an automatic spreadsheet, where formulas are recalculated every time a cell is changed. When Multiplan appeared, the market was asking for something more. Multiplan was the first spreadsheet with great ease of use. The possibilities of using several spreadsheets together is another of the revolutionary features of this program.

Program loading

We load the CP/M PLUS, and after that we write «submit mp». We must make sure that the appropriate version is loaded on our computer (CPC-6128 or PCW-8256), if we make a mistake, the only thing that would happen is that the keyboard would not be adapted to our model, but since there is duplication of commands, it would even work, although it is inconvenient not to be able to use the cursor keys or «DEL», «DELETE»,…

After the welcome messages, the work screen appears with the numbering of the rows and columns, and a colored rectangle, this is the cursor.

The first thing you notice when you load the program is that Multiplan uses a different screen format than other popular spreadsheets. It does not use the usual system of screens with menus, which in each change of option has to rebuild the sheet, with the consequent loss of time, but most of the options are collected and managed through the last three rows of the screen .

When we work with it, the screen is divided into two main parts: one in which we will write all our information and another where the options menu and the data on the amount of free memory are found.

The first one is divided into rows and columns, numbered, whose intersection is what is known as a cell, which constitutes the area destined to write what interests us.

With the menu we direct the program by indicating if we want to save the screen sheet, load another, enter a literal, alphanumeric, write a formula, make an output by printer…

When loading the program, the sheet already appears, with 27 rows and 8 columns, naturally empty. The complexity that we can obtain is high, especially due to the maximum size of the sheet: 63 columns and 255 rows (7 columns and 20 rows appear on the screen). Carrying out a small mathematical operation, for which we will not need the Multiplan, we will obtain as a result 16,065 available cells. As you can see, more than enough to perform very extensive tasks. In the last rows, the commands that we can choose appear, the cell where the cursor is, the amount of unused memory (100%) and the name of the sheet, which at the beginning is always TEMP. The various commands can be selected in two ways. The first is to press the space bar until the second cursor is on the desired command, and press (ENTER). The second consists of pressing the initial of the desired command. Once the command has been chosen, you can go back with the (CAN) key.

As for the cursor, it moves around the sheet automatically using the cursor keys. If the sheet has more cells than those that appear on the screen, when placing the cursor in the last cell and pressing the corresponding movement key, the others are moved, the first row or column disappearing, and the next appearing on the side. opposite of the screen. There are other ways to move the cursor more quickly, especially if the sheet is very large, which we will see later.

The first commands

The first command on the line is the ALPHA command. This is used to enter any text into a cell. Both for this command, and for almost all the others, before choosing the command you have to place the cursor in the desired cell. After selecting it, the program interprets that the data will be entered in that cell.

The next command is BLANK, which is used to delete the content of one or more cells, leaving them blank. COPY is used to copy data from one cell to other cells. It is very useful, especially for copying formulas. DELETE deletes the contents of cells, deleting the cells themselves. That is, in addition to deleting the content, the following cells are moved one place, occupying that of the deleted ones.

Next on the list is: EDIT. It is used to edit text, and mainly formulas. If you edit text, this is the only command where they have to be enclosed in “quotes”.

FORMAT is one of the most complete commands in the program. It has multiple options that allow you to alter the dimension, the alignment, the format, and the way of displaying the texts and values, including commas, sign and number of decimals, and particular signs, such as ($) or (#).

GOTO allows you to quickly scroll through the sheet of text, especially if it is very large. Combining this command with NAME, which allows a specific name to be given to a row, column or group of rows and columns, we can move quickly by indicating that name. If we have created windows, it also allows us to instantly go to the left corner of the window that we specify.

HELP is a powerful help command, which can be invoked by pressing (?) at any time, even within the execution of another command. If done through the command line, it explains —in English— how to use this function, and allows you to review all the information available. If it is done by pressing (?) inside another command, it briefly explains the ways to use that command, and allows you to see the following ones or return to the page where you left off. Selecting this command clears the sheet to display the help text. When finished, selecting RESUME returns to the sheet as it was before selecting it.

INSERT allows you to insert cells, rows and columns anywhere on the sheet.

LOCK is a command that serves to protect, by locking them, the cells that are indicated, from accidental deletion or modification. You can also lock a formula, so all cells containing that formula will be locked. If some cells are locked, the cursor will automatically move to the next unlocked cell when trying to modify any of them.

MOVE provides a way to move a group of rows or columns from one part of the sheet to another. Using it together with INSERT, putting blank cells in between, more complex moves can be made.

NAME allows you to give a name to a row, column or group of these, so that both in the GOTO command and in formulas, you can make a generic mention of this group. It is especially convenient for editing generic formulas, and for mixing different spreadsheets.

OPTIONS allows you to tailor the spreadsheet to your needs. It asks if you want the values ​​of the formulas to be automatically recalculated after a modification, which in a sheet with many formulas can be slower than doing the calculation after all the modifications. If the answer is no, every time we want to recalculate we will have to order it, except when we use the TRANSFER command, which will continue to do so automatically. Another question you ask is ]MUTE? to know if we want an alarm beep to sound every time the program detects an error. ITERATION and COMPLETION TEST establish the calculations necessary to obtain correct results when there are cells that depend on the results of operations performed on other cells. This is so because in this case, it usually takes a minimum of two total calculations, so that the results are correct..

                                             MAIN COMMAND PANEL

ALPHA: Enter text in the cursor cell.
BLANK: Deletes the indicated cell or cells.
COPY: Select the options to copy something to a group of cells in a row.
DELETE: Deletes cells, making the following ones occupy the space of the deleted cells.
EDIT: Edit texts or formulas in the cell.
FORMAT: Select the options to modify the dimension, width and presentation of the sheet.
GOTO: Quickly moves the cursor to the indicated cell. Useful on very large leaves.
HELP: Shows help texts for the selected function.
INSERT: Insert new cells, rows or columns.
LOCK: Lock cells to prevent erroneous deletion.
MOVE: Select the options to move cells to another place on the sheet.
NAME: Assign a name to a group of cells. It can then be used in formulas, goto, etc...
OPTIONS: Selects the internal control options of the sheet.
PRINT: Select print options.
QUIT: Ends the program without saving the sheet to disk. Ask for confirmation.
SORT: Sorts the sheet by rows, according to the value of a given column.
TRANSFER: Select drive options
VALUE: Enter a number or formula in the cursor cell.
WINDOW: Select options to manage windows.
XTERNAL: Select options to merge other sheets on disk, into the current sheet

Differentiating features of Multiplan over spreadsheets.

The presentation screen is similar to that of other sheets: its most notable feature is that the four lower lines provide information for the user: the list of supported commands, a line that provides instructions and our position in the sheet, as well as the percentage of use.

The selection of the option can be done in two ways: pressing the key corresponding to the initial of the command or going through the list with TAB, space or DELETE, until reaching the command that we want to execute and pressing RETURN at that moment. This dual selection system combines the advantages of menus with the speed of name selection for the experienced user.

On the initial screen there are several options for moving around the sheet, either cell by cell or page by page. The assigned keys of special keys such as PAGE or CHAR, which allow the page or character advance in editing.

As in all spreadsheets, each cell can contain a formula, a number, or text. A cell can also be named, which can then be referred to by name as well as its coordinates.

Symbolic names

To name a cell or group of cells, simply use the Name option. A name must start with a letter, and be made up of letters, numbers, a period, and an underscore, up to 31 characters. The names are used to move with the “goto” command, but their main utility is the possibility of using them as a difference in the “external” command, which we will talk about later.

Symbolic names can be used in formulas. For example, after having defined a name “Sales” as the identifier of a row, it can be written in another cell average (Sales), so that the average of the sales will occupy the indicated cell. In any case, in a first stage it is more practical to forget about the names and use another very interesting feature of Multiplan.

Very simple formulas

Multiplan has a feature that saves a lot of writing time and many errors: formulas, which can be started by pressing or selecting “Value”, allow you to use relative cell references by moving the cursor with the keys. For example, to make the content of a cell equal to the previous one plus one, just press = ↑ + 1 <ENTER>. Pressing cursor up the entry line presents R[-1]C, indicating the previous row (Row), and the current Column. Just add +1 to the formula, so that each cell adds one to the previous one.

The formula could then be copied across the entire column, to get a counter. Formula copying, along with relative cell references, makes it very easy to perform similar chains of operations. And this is precisely the type of operations characteristic of financial calculations: the same operations are carried out, over and over again, on different sets of numbers.

Printer and Multiplan.

Printing options are made with the PRINT command. Possibilities include saving a version of the sheet in print format to disk, to print it directly later, or use it with a word processor, etc…; select margins, print the formulas instead of their values ​​and print the sheet partially and completely. In addition, a high-resolution copy of the screen can be made by simultaneously pressing the (EXTRA) and (PRINT) keys. You can make a copy of both the sheet itself and the “Help” text.

QUIT is used to exit to the CP/M. It does not make any copies of the current sheet, and if it has not been previously saved to disk, the data is lost. Watch out for him.

Another curious command is SORT, which allows you to sort the data in the rows or columns, according to the content of one of them, from highest to lowest or vice versa. All kinds of combinations can be made, sorting first by numerical value and then by alphabetical order, etc…

TRANSFER is the command that is responsible for managing contact with the disk. Due to the installation carried out for this computer, which loads the program in the virtual disk M, and leaves it as an assigned disk, to load or save a sheet on disk it is necessary to precede the name of the sheet, the signs (A:) or use TRANSFER Options to assign the data to disk A. On the other hand, you can also obtain a catalog of the disk, using the cursor movement keys within the options of this command, and then place it in the name of the sheet that you want to load, instead of typing it. In the SAVE option, if a sheet with the given name is already saved, it will ask if you want to save the program over the previous version, and if you answer yes, it will delete the old one, saving the new one over it. Otherwise, cancel the order. In addition, it allows you to delete or rename any program on the disk.

The VALUE command allows you to enter formulas or numerical values ​​in the cell where the cursor is located. To enter the formulas, it is not necessary to type the reference of each cell. Simply by placing the cursor over a cell, its reference is written, and it is only necessary to put the operation signs.

We can create various windows within the sheet, up to a maximum of eight, using the WINDOW command. You can choose to create the windows with or without a drawn border. With the border, the presentation is greatly improved. But the main advantage of having several windows is that handling the data in those windows is not only faster, but also more practical. You can move the windows as you want, and in large sheets this ability is appreciated.

The last command we have is XTERNAL. This command allows you to add to the “active” sheet that is on the screen, data from sheets that are recorded on the disk. It also allows you to create a dependency relationship between the sheets recorded on the disk and the one on the screen, so that when you update certain data on the screen on the sheet, they are also updated in some of the disk. When using this function, it is very useful to have defined the cells that are going to be transferred from one sheet to another with a specific name. Thus, referencing them is much easier than with their row and column.

Related features.

So far we have seen all the commands that can be used in this program. But before concluding, we must point out another magnificent feature of it. In addition to the normal arithmetic operations, Multiplan implements a series of relational functions that add power, if possible, to the sheet. Explaining them all would be too extensive, but in the following table you can see the list of them.

       ABS.       AND.       COLUMN.       COS.       EXP.       FALSE.       INDEX.       INT.
       LEN.       LN.        MAX.          MID.       NA.        NOT.         PI.          REPT.
       SIGN.      SIN.       SUM.          TAN.       ATAN.      AVERAGE.     COUNT.       DOLLAR.
       FIXED.     IF.        ISERROR.      ISNA.      LOG10.     LOOKUP.      MIN.         MOD.
       NPV.       OR.        ROUND.        ROW.       SQRT.      STDEV.       TRUE.        VALUE.

On the other hand, the formulas can be built, in addition to the four arithmetic operations, with trigonometry, integer part, rounding, absolute value, powers, natural and decimal logarithms, roots…, even logical functions with AND, OR and NOT.

As the operation of the majority is very similar to that of Basic, we will review only those that are exclusive to Multiplan:

ATAN.: Calculates the arc tangent of an argument.
AVERAGE.: Calculates the average of the indicated data.
COLUMN.: Returns the number of the column where the indicated formula appears.
COUNT.: Counts the number of cells that have a numeric argument.
DOLLAR.: Converts a No. to dollar format. (2.715=$2.72).
INDEX.: Returns the value of the indicated cell.
ISERROR.: Returns the True value if it detects an error.
ISNA.: Detects the value #N/A. (#N/A=Not available).
LOOKUP.: Looks for a specific value in a group of cells.
NA.: Mark certain cells with the value #N/A.
NPV(R,L).: Gives the value of the sum between 1 and i of the formula: Li/(1+r)^i.
REPT.: Repeats a text a certain number of times.
ROW.: Returns the number of the row where the indicated formula appears.
SIGN.: Returns the sign of the indicated argument.
STDEV.: Calculates the standard deviation of the values that are indicated.

Memory the only drawback.

One of the problems observed in Multiplan in the Amstrad version is the reduced available memory: only 17K. To know the total memory, just press Options and <RETURN>. The computer then writes the version number along with the available memory. The bottom line shows the percentage of it that has been used so far. The available memory is for approximately 1,000 cells, which is not a very large number..

The drawback, for most users, is more theoretical than real. It's rare that no one needs that many cells for any general purpose application. In the worst case, a twenty-year mortgage with monthly payments, 240 cells are enough to include the cash flow of the entire period.

Regarding the presentation on screen and paper. Multiplan has a remarkable feature: it allows up to eight windows to be displayed simultaneously on the same sheet, which can be moved together or separately. Very comfortable when it comes to keeping the titles in the left column and moving through the page keeping the meaning of the numbers.

Other advantages provided by this program is the excellent data protection: it is really difficult to “hang” Multiplan, since the forbidden instructions beep and cause the machine to print an error message immediately. Data protection is therefore excellent, especially if you use the “Lock” option, which allows you to protect the data of our program. A protected cell can only be modified by using the “Lock” option again to unprotect it. This unusual feature prevents a number from being typed, crushing the formula we worked so hard to introduce.

The first thing that appears is the way to install the program in the AMSTRAD CPC-6128 and PCW-8256, of course, in Spanish. We move on and that is when the final auction arrives: the reference guide in Spanish and the manual all in English, although with excellent and detailed instructions with images of the processes.

This type of program is aimed at a series of people with a certain level, and who normally have some knowledge of other languages, mainly English.

It is one of the first spreadsheets under the CP/M operating system and possibly one of the best in this field.

Although many users, unfamiliar with this great computer science invention that are electronic statements, will not find spreadsheets very useful, their usefulness in planning and simulation is very great. Only the creativity of the user limits the possibilities of a spreadsheet, and Multiplan is a very good example of the latest generation of this type of program, a particularly good example.


If in all the programs the possibilities that it can give us are important, or if it adjusts or not to our needs, we must not neglect the quality of the instructions, because it depends on them that we cannot take advantage of the best of the programs, or resists to function as it should, for which we desperately decided to corner it.

We verify that the external presentation is very careful and in Spanish. We open it and we are scared to see how well fed the manual is.

Its ease of handling data, a capacity limited only by the computer's own memory, are some of the most important features that we can highlight in this impressive program.

To conclude, this is a truly professional application. Although this review of its functions has been a bit cumbersome, it is not necessary to master everything to work with MULTIPLAN. In fact, the most common operations are learned with amazing ease. Learning to make a normal spreadsheet for a non-expert user takes a while, and then, with practice, it's a matter of gradually complicating things. Its power reaches limits that are difficult to reach, it can do almost everything.

The external possibilities that it includes greatly facilitate the creation and maintenance of all types of tables. Really a good program. The only thing that requires some attention is the adaptation of the keyboard, which at first makes it necessary to have the first page of the manual in front of you. But both this and the other facets of using the program are learned after using it for a few days. And what is not known with certainty, can always be seen explained in the help messages «HELP.»


In the following images you can check the original packaging.


Here is the original cover.


Original disks supplied with Microsoft Multiplan.


Custom labels to print. Over the years due to their use, the labels are damaged and lose their color and quality. Now we try to adapt the most similar to the extent of our possibilities, the labels so that they can be printed and replaced or for those of you who work with a copy of the program and preserve the original disc. Measurement in 3“ height: 2.40 cm - width: 6.80 cm. The labels correspond to the original label that comes on the 3“ disc and then the duplicate label.



Spanish product guide, printed on soft cardboard cover in color and inside in black and white whose measurements are: Width 26.00 x Height: 20.20 cm

Graphic representation with multiplan

We present a very creative example of using a spreadsheet. The application is intended for Multiplan, but can be easily adapted for use with other spreadsheets.

Everyone knows that the graphical presentation of the results of any table greatly helps to visualize them. However, the presentation of results is not always easy. But here is an easy system to do it: Almost all spreadsheets have a REPT or similar function, which is usually used to underline text, with a formula like REPT(«=»,LEN(R[-1])), below the text to be underlined. However, using it wisely, it is easy to create a dashboard that draws bar charts, even with auto scaling.

The first thing that should be done to start the program is to define the width of column 10, where the representation will be, to a sufficient number of characters, for example 30. To do this, select (F)ormat, (W) idht, and type 30, with the cursor in column 10. This defines column 10 as 30 characters wide. Then you can proceed to enter the following formula in column 10, row 10: REPT(«*»,RC[-9]*scale). The formula tells the program to repeat as many “*” as the value in column 1, row 10 times the value of the cell named “scale”. The (C)opy, (D)own, 12 command creates 12 copies of the same formula, in the cells below. Pressing (N)ame, scale, while the cursor is in row 6, column 1, we give the name to the scale column. In it we must introduce the formula: RC[+1]/MAX(R[+4]: R[+16]C). This formula calculates the scale as the maximum number of characters (which will be stored in row 6 column 2) divided by the maximum number of our function, which must be in row 10 and 22, column 1.

In the absence of titles, we enter the maximum number, for example 25, in row 6, column 2. The values ​​of the function will be entered in row 10, column 1, up to row 22, column 1. The function automatically adjusts the scale, the largest number occupying as many asterisks as the number stored in 6.2.

The function automatically redraws each time a value is changed, and these may be the result of other calculations. The limits used are sufficient for most purposes, although they can be altered at will.



The disk images have been obtained from the original version of Microsoft Multiplan, have been recorded and verified.


Below you can download the Microsoft Multiplan manual and program guide or view it online.

en/aplicaciones/microsoft_multiplan.txt · Last modified: 2022/06/27 01:30 by jevicac