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Early Dashboards

An Excel Dashboard Report from 1992 with Financial Data for a Public Company

This Excel dashboard report shows the performance of a public company in 1992. It offers lessons that still are relevant today.

Charley Kyd is a Microsoft Excel MVP by Charley Kyd, MBA
Microsoft Excel MVP
The Father of Spreadsheet Dashboards

The figure below shows the first Excel dashboard to display data about a public company. Although this report looks quite similar to today's reports, the old and the new reports are significantly different under the hood.

Back in 1992 I probably was using Excel 4.0. In those early versions, Excel could support only a few charts in a workbook. So to create this report back then I wrote a macro that generated each chart in a separate workbook and copied its image to the report page.

But even with those primitive techniques, the charts were powerful. Notice, for example, that the charts use two time scales: The column plots show annual performance and the line plots show quarterly performance.

Today, of course, Excel dashboards are more powerful and much easier to use. Even so, the lesson from those early days still applies to dashboards today: Creating Excel dashboards consists of two areas of knowledge, the body and its engine. The body can look great, but the report will fail if the engine is poorly designed.

Since the early 1990s I've experimented with many ways to support Excel dashboard reporting.  Today, the reason you can generate your first dashboard report in a few hours is that I've created a much easier and more powerful way to support each figure in the dashboard. That is, I've designed a much better engine. And no macros are needed!

This is one of the reasons that Excel users in more than half the countries in the world use my Excel dashboard products. These users include people working in banks in at least 30 countries, more than 200 universities, hundreds of hospitals and other healthcare organizations, and each company that makes up the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

An early Excel dashboard report created by Charley Kyd in 1992.


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