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Originally known by the code name "EP", or "Electronic Paper", Microsoft Multiplan was introduced in 1982 as an early spreadsheet program and a competitor for VisiCalc. Although it was first released for the CP/M operating system, Microsoft developed it using a proprietary p-code C compiler, which enabled cross system portability; it was soon ported to the operating systems MS-DOS, Xenix, Apple II, and more. Although Microsoft released a graphics companion program, Microsoft Chart, Multiplan continued to be outsold by Lotus 1-2-3. The main difference between Multiplan and its competitors was that Multiplan used R1C1 addressing, which was more straightforward than the A1 addressing used by VisiCalc. Despite its straightforwardness, most users preferred the A1 addressing used by VisiCalc over the R1C1 used by Multiplan. Many years after the release of Multiplan, Microsoft replaced it with Microsoft Excel.
In its review, Ahoy! named the Commodore 64 version of Multiplan a "professional quality spreadsheet... There is not enough room in this article to mention all the mathematical operations performed... Documentation is lengthy but well written". The second review by Ahoy! mentioned limitations caused by the computer's 40 column screen, however, it complimented the documentation, the ability to halt any ongoing action, and finished with "its ease of use and foolproof design make Multiplan an outstanding value". "Multiplan for the Macintosh is a winner", BYTE claimed. It explained that including the Macintosh's graphics, user interface, and other versions' features and power, Multiplan "rivals, and in many ways exceeds, anything else available in the spreadsheet genre".