Say goodnight to Lotus 1-2-3

Talk about the end of an era: IBM officially ended support of Lotus 1-2-3 on September 30. For those who weren’t around in the 1980s, 1-2-3 was the world’s most popular spreadsheet and drove the success not only of Lotus Development Corp. but of the IBM PC itself. Until Microsoft Excel came along anyway.

[company]IBM [/company]bought Lotus — for Notes, not 1-2-3 — in 1995. The spreadsheet and its SmartSuite bundle has limped along in the years since, used mostly by IBMers it appeared, while the rest of the world became addicted to Microsoft Office.

So this is sort of a bittersweet week for someone who cut her teeth covering spreadsheets around the time Excel was toppling 1-2-3 from its perch. Up until then, WordPerfect ruled in word processors, Lotus in spreadsheets and Software Publishing’s Harvard Graphics in presentations. Until Microsoft had a stroke of genius of bundling its spreadsheet, word processor and presentation packages together and selling them at a discount over what each product would have cost separately.

Also worth noting, [company]Lotus[/company] 1-2-3 was not the first “electronic spreadsheet.” That honor went to VisiCalc, created a few miles away from Lotus’ Cambridge, Mass. headquarters for the Apple II by Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston.

Lotus 1-2-3, photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Lotus 1-2-3, photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Photo courtesy of  Flickr user  ctoverdrive