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Software

End of an Era: After a 30 Year Run, IBM Drops Support For Lotus 1-2-3 156

klubar writes Although it has been fading for years, the final death knell came recently for the iconic Lotus 1-2-3. In many ways, Lotus 1-2-3 launched the PC era (and ensured the Apple II success), and once was a serious competitor for Excel (and prior to that Multiplan and VisiCalc). Although I doubt if anyone is creating new Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheets, I'm sure there are spreadsheets still being used who trace their origin to Lotus 1-2-3, and even Office 2013 still has some functions and key compatibility with Lotus 1-2-3. Oh, how far the mighty have fallen.
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End of an Era: After a 30 Year Run, IBM Drops Support For Lotus 1-2-3

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  • by Slartibartfast ( 3395 ) * <ken@NOSPAM.jots.org> on Thursday October 02, 2014 @02:29PM (#48049025) Homepage Journal

    Though it took some doing to supplant Visicalc.

    • Excel was "Microsoft Lotus 1-2-3" before it was "Excel".

      And let's not forget Quattro Pro somewhere in there...

      • by ichthus ( 72442 )
        Or Wingz. I remember using Wingz on IBM RISC work stations at the University. It was great.
      • Re:Errr.. no... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Em Adespoton ( 792954 ) <slashdotonly.1.adespoton@spamgourmet.com> on Thursday October 02, 2014 @04:04PM (#48050139) Homepage Journal

        Thay're talking 30 years ago -- that'd be 1984.

        VisiCalc was from 1979. In 1982, Lotus 1-2-3 was born. It ran well on the Apple II. That's 32 years, not 30 years. Lotus 1-2-3 includes the bits that were supposed to go into VisiCalc's front end and presentation modules, but were rejected. Excel was 1984, and was released for the Mac. In 1986, Lotus bought VisiCalc. In 1987, when MS DOS 3 was released, Excel 2.0 was ported to it and was one of the flagship packages. IBM bought Lotus in 1995, same year that Excel became a flagship Office product for Windows 95.

        Quattro, Foxbase, etc. are kind of a footnote to this.

        • Mod parent +1 informative.

          • Re:Errr.. no... (Score:5, Informative)

            by Mr Z ( 6791 ) on Thursday October 02, 2014 @10:40PM (#48053133) Homepage Journal

            No, Mod GP -1 inaccurate. Lotus 1-2-3 never ran on the Apple ][ family. It ran on the PC from the get-go. It was launched in 1983, not 1982.

            Lotus bought VisiCalc in 1985, not 1986.

            Excel didn't come out until 1985 (not 1984), and it was never ported to DOS. Its first appearance on a PC was as a Windows version in 1987. It came with a run-time version of Windows if you didn't already have Windows. Excel managed to kill Lotus 1-2-3 primarily because it was born as a GUI app and was native GUI all the way through. Lotus 1-2-3 stumbled on its way to the GUI, which allowed Excel to eventually overtake it.

            • No, Mod GP -1 inaccurate. Lotus 1-2-3 never ran on the Apple ][ family. It ran on the PC from the get-go. It was launched in 1983, not 1982.

              I'll vouch for that since I'm over 40. ;) Darned millenials who get their microcomputer history from vague recollections of wikipedia articles.

            • by geekoid ( 135745 )

              Not quit right.

              To say the first version was for windows is a little dis-indigenous. Windows was a DOS program back then, and excel could be started form DOS.

        • Lotus 1-2-3 was great. I figured out how to use it without a manual and did some impressive stuff, back in 81. I still can't figure out how to use Excel though.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The infamous battle cry at Microsoft back in the 80s:

      "DOS ain't done 'till Lotus won't run."

  • Oh rly? (Score:5, Funny)

    by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Thursday October 02, 2014 @02:30PM (#48049027)
    So it was Lotus 1-2-3 that made the Apple ][ a success. Good to know after all these years.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      LOL, I know, right?

      I mean, look. Slashdot is what it is, and in recent years it's really gone down the tubes. But Lotus 1-2-3 on the Apple II? This is embarrassing. Just flat-out embarrassing.

    • Re:Oh rly? (Score:5, Informative)

      by msauve ( 701917 ) on Thursday October 02, 2014 @02:38PM (#48049135)
      Submitter is a tyro. It was, of course, Visicalc which added to the Apple ]['s success. And, before Lotus 1-2-3 on the IBM PC, there was Multiplan.
      • Re:Oh rly? (Score:4, Funny)

        by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Thursday October 02, 2014 @02:40PM (#48049179)
        I still have a red mark on my forehead from the facepalm.
      • Submitter is a tyro. It was, of course, Visicalc which added to the Apple ]['s success. And, before Lotus 1-2-3 on the IBM PC, there was Multiplan.

        Multiplan though, didn't have a great deal more functionality than VisiCalc (although it did have a superior user interface in my opinion). Lotus 1-2-3 added graphics. You could now select ranges and make bar graphs, line graphs, and pie charts, and do simple statistical things like finding lines of best fit. This is what really set it apart from VisiCalc and made it the dominant spreadsheet of its time.

        • by tgeek ( 941867 )
          Multiplan did have one big thing going for it . . . it ran on *nix boxes. In fact, many of the old termcap entries were created for MS Multiplan.
      • I used Visicalc on a TRS-80.

        • You could also get Visicalc on the Atari 400/800.
          • by ogdenk ( 712300 )

            Yep, I have both Visicalc and Syncalc for the 400/800 on floppy. Only hassle was the 800 didn't do 80-column text out of the box and neither package supported any of the 80-column solutions for this platform.

            • That's a good point. There's a few 80 column word processing solutions but I don't recall seeing anything for spreadsheets.
    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      It was Lotus Jazz that made the Mac a success.

  • Mark Zuckerberg. Who knew?

  • by dingleberrie ( 545813 ) on Thursday October 02, 2014 @02:34PM (#48049095)

    I can't wait for Michael Bay to make a movie about it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    People are definitely still using 1-2-3. It's installed on every machine at an accounting firm I do some work for right next to Excel. I don't know why specifically, but it's used nearly every day.

  • Lotus 1-2-3 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Thursday October 02, 2014 @02:46PM (#48049219)

    Ok, that I know of Lotus was never on Apple... wasn't that Visicalc?

    Anyways... when I was a kid, my father brought home a Commodore Vic20 and said "Son! This is the future!" and told me to figure out how to plug it into the TV. I'll not lie... to me it was a video game machine for years. The command line reminded me of exploring some cave... the directories different tunnels, etc... I was a kid.

    But as the computers got better and I eventually found myself on an Apple IIe and a Compaq PC it got more interesting. And what finally made me realize what computers could do was when my dad brought home copies of Lotus and Visicalc. I would sit for hours making spreadsheets with formulas in pale monochrome ASCII. You could change something in one cell and watch all the other cells change in response. Prior to that I had no idea what programming even was... or how variables and functions worked. Those first spreadsheets are what made it all real to me. I thought it was amazing. I put my famillies finances on it. I budgeted my allowance. I made rudimentary war games. Really, Lotus (because I always liked the PC better) is what finally made me realize computers were important, and it was something I wanted to do.

    Thanks Lotus!

    • by tibit ( 1762298 )

      It's better than that - you were using purely functional programming. Lotus, without macros, is as purely functional as Haskell without monads.

    • Re:Lotus 1-2-3 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Thursday October 02, 2014 @03:56PM (#48050037) Homepage

      Ok, that I know of Lotus was never on Apple... wasn't that Visicalc?

      Anyways... when I was a kid, my father brought home a Commodore Vic20 and said "Son! This is the future!" and told me to figure out how to plug it into the TV. I'll not lie... to me it was a video game machine for years. The command line reminded me of exploring some cave... the directories different tunnels, etc... I was a kid.

      But as the computers got better and I eventually found myself on an Apple IIe and a Compaq PC it got more interesting. And what finally made me realize what computers could do was when my dad brought home copies of Lotus and Visicalc. I would sit for hours making spreadsheets with formulas in pale monochrome ASCII. You could change something in one cell and watch all the other cells change in response. Prior to that I had no idea what programming even was... or how variables and functions worked. Those first spreadsheets are what made it all real to me. I thought it was amazing. I put my famillies finances on it. I budgeted my allowance. I made rudimentary war games. Really, Lotus (because I always liked the PC better) is what finally made me realize computers were important, and it was something I wanted to do.

      Thanks Lotus!

      I heard that when accountants first saw demos of Visicalc, many of them literally broke down in tears when they realized how much of the "boring" parts of their job were going to be eliminated.

      • I heard that when accountants first saw demos of Visicalc, many of them literally broke down in tears when they realized how much of the "boring" parts of their job were going to be eliminated.

        Tears of joy, or of sadness?

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      Heh. My parents got me a Texas Instrument 99/4A computer so I could use it for homeworks when I was young. I hated it, but I found out it could do video games like my Atari 2600 and arcades. Then, I liked it! I haven't owned a video game console since then! it was all computer games for me. http://zimage.com/~ant/antfarm... [zimage.com] for my list of what I had and have. ;)

    • by Smurf ( 7981 )

      Ok, that I know of Lotus was never on Apple... wasn't that Visicalc?

      Actually, there were a couple of versions of Lotus 1-2-3 for Mac OS. [lotusmuseum.com]

  • by damn_registrars ( 1103043 ) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Thursday October 02, 2014 @02:53PM (#48049307) Homepage Journal
    IBM has sold off or abandoned many of their best consumer products:
    • OS/2
    • ThinkPads (and ThinkCentres)
    • The PowerPC CPU line
    • (what became) Lexmark Printers
    • DeskStar hard drives
    • x86 servers

    And yet they still seem to be doing fine. While some of us may miss Lotus it doesn't appear that IBM will.

    • IBM Did a lot of big screwups.
      OS/2 their marketing was horrible, they had an opportunity with Windows 3.1 lagging for too long, but they made a stupid commercial that the public didn't even know what it was about. And they let Microsoft make Windows 95 seem like what Windows 7 is. (and cost hundreds of dollars less)

      The PowerPC line, They were doing good until the Gigahertz range was common in Intel, Power PC was still in MHZ. Intel started to make much faster chips and PowerPC couldn't get caught up.

      Lexm

      • by rssrss ( 686344 )

        Think Pads, now made by Lenovo, are still good, still solidly built, and very difficult to break. They are my go to advice for Windows laptops.

      • OS/2 their marketing was horrible, they had an opportunity with Windows 3.1 lagging for too long, but they made a stupid commercial that the public didn't even know what it was about. And they let Microsoft make Windows 95 seem like what Windows 7 is. (and cost hundreds of dollars less)

        I agree that OS/2 represented one of the greatest marketing screw-ups in the history of marketing. They should have eaten Microsoft's lunch with OS/2 but instead found themselves on the outside looking in. IIRC they tried the brilliant slogan of "I just totally warped my computer!" which a lot of people had a hard time comprehending to be a good thing.

        It was, nonetheless, an excellent product for its time. IIRC it was still running on ATMs and other embedded platforms not too long ago.

        The PowerPC line, They were doing good until the Gigahertz range was common in Intel, Power PC was still in MHZ. Intel started to make much faster chips and PowerPC couldn't get caught up.

        I think they cou

        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          The PowerPC line, They were doing good until the Gigahertz range was common in Intel, Power PC was still in MHZ. Intel started to make much faster chips and PowerPC couldn't get caught up.

          I think they could have saved this without breaking their necks for GHz. That said, they did pull off quite a feat when they had all three of the current-generation home gaming consoles

          PowerPC is a rather sad history, and it was good as an embedded processor. Of course, a fruity company demanded more and more and eventual

      • The PowerPC line, They were doing good until the Gigahertz range was common in Intel, Power PC was still in MHZ. Intel started to make much faster chips and PowerPC couldn't get caught up.

        of course PowerPC was RISC and Intel CPUs were CISC. It is an apples to oranges comparison. Kind of like how I have a 3.1 GHz SandyRidge processor right now and it is about 10 times faster than the 3.1 GHz process I had in my previous 8 year old computer.

        • Apple used to have media campaigns based on big, blatant benchmarking lies. They cooked up Photoshop benchmarks, which if you pay minimal attention were not actually benchmarking Photoshop but some specially prepared plugins.
          Find a workload that favours your CPU, create an artificial benchmark disguised as an useful program, hand optimize it like fuck on Mac/PPC and make a sloppy variant for Windows/x86. Then you can boast that e.g. PowerPC G3 is twice as fast as Pentium II in "Photoshop".

        • The PowerPC line, They were doing good until the Gigahertz range was common in Intel, Power PC was still in MHZ. Intel started to make much faster chips and PowerPC couldn't get caught up.

          of course PowerPC was RISC and Intel CPUs were CISC.

          Yet that makes what happened even more strange. A long touted advantage of RISC was that because of its simplicity it could be clocked so much faster than CISC that doing less per instruction would still be faster net throughput. Yet what happened was that CISC (in the hands of Intel) could and did do and even outdo all the optimizations of RISC, including clock speed.

          Now ARM has been making hay with a new RISC advantage, power efficiency. We'll see...

          • Yet that makes what happened even more strange. A long touted advantage of RISC was that because of its simplicity it could be clocked so much faster than CISC that doing less per instruction would still be faster net throughput. Yet what happened was that CISC (in the hands of Intel) could and did do and even outdo all the optimizations of RISC, including clock speed.

            As you say, the key advantage of RISC is simplicity and speed, but the tradeoff is software needs to be more complex to work around the simplified instruction set. Intel recognised the risk of RISC to their business early, particularly noting that there would be once-off cost to develop the microcode that would enable the switch to RISC, after which their x86 advantage would be lost.

            Cleverly, instead of trying to fight the RISC upstarts, Intel chose to develop the microcode themselves and enable it in h

            • by Alioth ( 221270 )

              The x86 decoder is as large as an entire ARM execution core, and what's more it makes the pipeline and branch prediction a lot more complex with the variable length instructions so necessitates yet more complexity. From an asm point of view (and probably the compiler writer's point of view), a modern RISC processor is simpler to write software for than CISC, things like having all the ALU instructions taking 3 operands, having 32 registers that are truly general purpose (x86 still has some instructions that

      • by raxx7 ( 205260 )

        OS/2 was too advanced for the PC market of the time.
        OS/2 was something we take as granted now: a preemptive multi-tasking protected memory OS.
        But such an OS had drawbacks: it requires more memory, a bit more CPU and tends not to work well for old applications that were written to run on a bare metal "OS" like DOS.
        Although Microsft had one since 1993 (Windows NT), it was not until 2001 (Windows XP) that they were able to converge the PC market into using such an OS.

        IBM didn't abandon PowerPC, only a given ma

    • They are not doing fine. All thats left is a few aging mainframe platforms which are shrinking niche and have been for decades.

      • Your opinion and the facts don't seem to be very much aligned.... 10 Year IBM Financial Performance [gurufocus.com]
        • by tomhath ( 637240 )
          His opinion is accurate. Your graph shows Revenue per Share. But look at what happened to the number of shares: Dec/04 1701, Dec/13 1103. They bought back shares to prop up their stock price and make Revenue per Share look better. During that ten year period Total Revenue went from $96B to $98B, essentially no growth in ten years.
    • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

      I wonder what happened to their Auschwitz counting machines?

    • their best consumer products .... snip ....DeskStar hard drives

      I just spat coffee on my monitor.

      Now excuse me while I go huddle in the corner trying to make the memories of years of repeated dataloss go away.

    • by sribe ( 304414 )

      And yet they still seem to be doing fine.

      Uhm, no, they are NOT doing fine.

  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Thursday October 02, 2014 @02:56PM (#48049333)
    Goodby Lotus 1-2-3 in 3 - 2 - 1.....
  • Notes? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JaySSSS ( 859968 ) on Thursday October 02, 2014 @03:05PM (#48049423)

    Now if they would only do the same with Notes!

  • by Eravnrekaree ( 467752 ) on Thursday October 02, 2014 @03:41PM (#48049843)

    IBM, why not open source it? It could be of at least historical value to someone, and it could allow for porting to linux and allow it to be used in a DOSBOX or VM. If someone here from IBM reads this, could you advance this idea?

    • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

      because Microsoft would have a kitten fit.

    • by larien ( 5608 )
      I'd have thought that OpenOffice or LibreOffice have probably over taken it on functionality on a modern OS, so there's likely little real value in it. As for running on DOSBOX or similar, why bother?
    • IBM has long been a contributor to openoffice and released Lotus Symphony based on it, so it's safe to assume they've brought the relevant parts over.

  • Quattro Pro was the shiznits. Once it came out, Lotus 1-2-3 disappeared from our lab.
    • And then that cock sucker Jim Manzi decided if you can't beat them with your software, take the massive cash you have in the bank and suit them into bankruptcy IN Boston with a hand picked Judge all nice and paid for. To this day, if I see him I will hit him square in the nose as hard as I can and dance over him while he bleeds.

      Borland eventually won in court but not until after they had been bled of their cash to defend the suit and had sold Quattro of to Novell ( dumbest thing that Uncle Ray ever did per

    • by n2505d ( 759637 )
      We learned spreadsheet basics on As Easy As 123. And same experience as above - once Quattro Pro came out, we used nothing else in the lab.
  • I think that was it: a way to highlight a really long array in 123, vs. dragging the mouse through a giant array. This is particularly painful on the Mac version of Excel. Adios 123, you are fondly remembered.
  • I imagine some Milton Waddams doppelganger in a basement at IBM headquarters who was the "Lotus 1-2-3 support guy" and finally decided enough was enough
  • by Anonymous Coward

    And no one remembers the revolutionary spreadsheet software that Lotus sold: Improv.
    I believe it was the first spreadsheet that supported pivot tables.
    I was fortunate and got it for free @ CompUSA. They were giving away excess copies that they received as a free promotion to include with purchased copies of Lotus SmartSuite.

    • I remember it, and loved it! A friend who invested heavily in Improv-related technology told me he found out (after losing his shirt) that Lotus had shut Improv down because it was eating into 1-2-3's market share, and they considered the latter their bread and butter product. So they ditched Improv, stuck with 1-2-3, and got their clocks cleaned by Microsoft.
  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Thursday October 02, 2014 @05:15PM (#48050997) Journal

    One major thing I remember about Lotus 1-2-3 was how easy it allowed spreadsheet power-users to become programmers (maintainability of code aside) via "Macros". Since it was designed in the pre-mouse era, one typically learned and memorized key-strokes based on the menu choices. (The corresponding letters were highlighted, similar to underscores in Windows menus.)

    Thus, to "program", you just gave the menu letter sequence in a Macro function. Thus, "FSfoo{enter}" would mean "File, Save as name 'foo' (fictitious example using Windows idioms). An IF function allowed conditionals, and one could "GO TO" cells that had further letter sequence macros and/or create loops. That's enough to make it Turing Complete. It leveraged existing spreadsheet idioms and menu letters to build programs around.

    Accountants and clerks did amazing programming using Lotus 1-2-3. Of course it was spaghetti code, but in the short term they were "programmers".

    I haven't seen anything like it before or since. Programming Excel is a PITA even for experienced programmers (in other products).

    • Accountants and clerks did amazing programming using Lotus 1-2-3.

      I wrote a custom billing system for a bank. It had a master shell spreadsheet which then read in 300 odd data files from a mainframe listing transactions, one by one. Each customer file was parsed, the data processed into billing records which were written to another area of the sheet. Once all that was done, the bill templates were read in, again one by one, the addresses looked up, billing records turned into a charge schedule and the state

  • "Windows ain't done 'til Lotus don't run"

  • "...DOS ain't done 'til Lotus won't run."

  • My first computer, a 286 with a 4Mb harddrive and 4Mb of ram, had Lotus 1-2-3 on it. I'm not saying we ran the local betting pool off of it and ran into issues with how much money could be pulled out of a bank at one time. Just saying. Not saying.

  • When are they going to kill Lotus Notes?

  • I think we still miss a universal, open source, Office suite conversion tool (Or maybe it is already out there and I haven't find it). For example, if you find an old .123 file, depending on the date, the best way will be to open it with SmartSuite 9.8, save it as newer .123 or as .xls. If you save it as .123 the only want to turn it into .ods is to use IBM Symphony 1.3 (?) to turn it into ods.

    If you can not find SmartSuite (or older 1-2-3) you are doomed. So I think that an extendible open source conve

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