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Goodbye, Lotus 1-2-3

timothy posted about a year ago | from the 3-2-1-zero dept.

IBM 276

walterbyrd writes "In 2012, IBM started retiring the Lotus brand. Now 1-2-3, the core product that brought Lotus its fame, takes its turn on the chopping block. IBM stated, 'Effective on the dates listed below, [June 11, 2013] IBM will withdraw from marketing part numbers from the following product release(s) licensed under the IBM International Program License Agreement:' IBM Lotus 123 Millennium Edition V9.x, IBM Lotus SmartSuite 9.x V9.8.0, and Organizer V6.1.0. Further, IBM stated, 'Customers will no longer be able to receive support for these offerings after September 30, 2014. No service extensions will be offered. There will be no replacement programs.'"

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276 comments

How about cutting Notes? (4, Insightful)

Cereal Box (4286) | about a year ago | (#43780839)

I'd take Outlook in a second over Notes.

Re:How about cutting Notes? (5, Funny)

Joehonkie (665142) | about a year ago | (#43780907)

I'd take Outlook in a second over Notes.

I'd take PINE over either. And I don't even like PINE.

Re:How about cutting Notes? (5, Funny)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about a year ago | (#43781251)

I'd take PINE over either. And I don't even like PINE.

You mean Emacs, VI doesn't even- oh wait, wrong discussion.

Re:How about cutting Notes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43781297)

We use a cork-board and pieces of paper.

Re:How about cutting Notes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43780931)

I'd take anything in a second over Notes.

Re:How about cutting Notes? (4, Insightful)

sizzzzlerz (714878) | about a year ago | (#43780975)

When my company was bought, the parent company, who uses Notes, put us on Notes. Two years later, we're still fixing issues with the migration. Nobody likes this POS and that includes people in the parent company who've been using it for years.

Re:How about cutting Notes? (2)

noc007 (633443) | about a year ago | (#43781073)

What was the rational for this? Why would they continue on with such crap?

Genuinely interested.

Re:How about cutting Notes? (4, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | about a year ago | (#43781643)

Probably because they've bought a site licence. Once they do that, all rational thought about switching to something better goes out the window.

Re:How about cutting Notes? (2)

Big Jim Taters (1490261) | about a year ago | (#43781121)

Do you work for my company? Because that sounds just like my company. And we buy up companies all the time and force this awful POS unintuitive "software" upon all sorts of unfortunate souls.

Re:How about cutting Notes? (1)

Nethead (1563) | about a year ago | (#43781465)

We have this coming up in a few months after a very large and old French company bought our little aerospace company. If you were part of the IT transition team, please mail me so we can hear your horror stories.

Re:How about cutting Notes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43781593)

What is it with the French and Lotus Notes? I've worked for two french-owned companies and they both forced that POS on us.

Re:How about cutting Notes? (4, Informative)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about a year ago | (#43780993)

Lotus Notes may well be the worst piece of software ever to exist (even if you include blatant malware in the competition). It is technically considered a "groupware" platform, but in practice it's almost exclusively used as an email/calendaring client, and it absolutely sucks at that, lacking the most basic features every other email program takes for granted.

Re:How about cutting Notes? (2)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#43781213)

Groupwise IMO was worse.. Far worse.

Re:How about cutting Notes? (2)

LDAPMAN (930041) | about a year ago | (#43781289)

Email and Calendaring work very well in Groupwise. Notes....? How is it far worse?

Re:How about cutting Notes? (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#43781411)

Crashing clients, lost messages and since you mention it disappearing calendar events and worse yet, horrible support. I realize it's the only thing that's keeping that happy valley company alive but it sucked, probably still does. It's been about 8 years since I've worked with it and I avoid it like Democratic Fundraisers. It may have gotten better but I'll believe that when Barbara Streisand's nose gets smaller. There's a reason that Exchange has taken everybody's lunch money (although that's fading now a bit thank god.)

Re:How about cutting Notes? (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#43781579)

"Crashing clients, lost messages and since you mention it disappearing calendar events and worse yet, horrible support."

This is what we experience here with Outlook and Exchange.

Re:How about cutting Notes? (1)

operagost (62405) | about a year ago | (#43781527)

Indeed. It's not hard to find Groupwise haters, even now, but they never seem to explain why. Groupwise was essentially the first modern groupware. Even on Windows 3.1, while Microsoft was putting out a bare bones mail program, Groupwise had a 99% complete calendaring system. The only thing that everyone uses that it didn't have yet was busy searches.. and that came with v5 in 1997. Outlook was pretty much still crapping in its diapers, in multiple ways, and Notes was a database design program disguised as a horrible groupware.

Re:How about cutting Notes? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#43781239)

Can you elaborate on it's deficiencies? Some of us have never had the displeasure of using it.

Re:How about cutting Notes? (2)

garyok (218493) | about a year ago | (#43781253)

I loved how Notes couldn't handle daylight savings (especially when a meeting request came from Outlook). Try explaining to your manager that you missed a meeting because the reminder was automagically set an hour late. God-awful POS.

Re:How about cutting Notes? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43781345)

My understanding is that "Notes" is really just the default public face of Domino Server, which is an enterprise-grade implementation of the Turing Tarpit: Anything is possible, nothing of interest is easy, and the corpses of lots of obsolete animals can be found lurking in the depths...

Notes was the best before IBM and Web (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | about a year ago | (#43781369)

Lotus Notes may well be the worst piece of software ever to exist

Lotus Notes was awesome before IBM bought it, and before the web seemingly made it obsolete. But replacements for Notes are only just recently appearing, such as Drupal and Joomla. That's right, what was called "groupware" back in the 90's is called CMS now. And Notes was decades ahead in terms of CMS back in the 90's. But then IBM bought it and its original vision was lost.

Re:Notes was the best before IBM and Web (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43781387)

Drupal and Joomla do email and calendaring? Out of the box?

Re:Notes was the best before IBM and Web (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | about a year ago | (#43781433)

Drupal and Joomla do email and calendaring? Out of the box?

I don't recall Lotus Notes pre-IBM having calendaring.

Re:Notes was the best before IBM and Web (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#43781605)

Are you insane? Drupal and Joomla replacements for Lotus Notes?

Let me guess, you also think that Adobe After effects is a good replacement for Microsoft notepad.

Drupal and Joomla are dynamic web page systems they are NOT CMS by any hope or stretch. Anyone trying to get normal corperate users to use those two are completely and utterly insane.

Re:How about cutting Notes? (4, Funny)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about a year ago | (#43781393)

Lotus Notes may well be the worst piece of software ever to exist (even if you include blatant malware in the competition). It is technically considered a "groupware" platform, but in practice it's almost exclusively used as an email/calendaring client, and it absolutely sucks at that, lacking the most basic features every other email program takes for granted.

From my experience with Notes, it is (apparently) impossible to configure and use the scheduling function in a way that improves group/department/team/business in any way. I'd get invited to dumb meetings, and just to be a smartass, I'd reply I couldn't make it and that the company truck would be attending in my place. Instead of being insulted or irritated with me, my colleagues and bosses would just assume that Notes had somehow screwed up my response and ask if another time would work better for me.

A waste of perfectly good passive-aggression.

Re:How about cutting Notes? (2)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | about a year ago | (#43781101)

Fortunately, my current job does not use Notes. My previous job did. All I can say about Notes is that my previous job used it because it was simple enough for out technology challenged managers (we had a ton of them) to be able to use it. It wasn't very good and it took a surprisingly large support staff to run it, but the managers could do things with it and that ended up being why it was used.

Re:How about cutting Notes? (5, Insightful)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about a year ago | (#43781273)

I'd take Outlook in a second over Notes.

No kidding. 1-2-3 dies and the abomination that's called "Notes" is allowed to live on. Tedious to use, painful to look at, the most powerful features usually not configured in a way to be useful. Die, Notes, die. Which of course is German for "The Notes, the.

Good riddance to bad rubbish (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43780841)

Nothing of value was lost.

Will they be open-sourcing it? (4, Interesting)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about a year ago | (#43780859)

If IBM no longer wants to support Lotus 1-2-3 (understandably so), then open-sourcing the code might be a nice goodwill gesture. This way, whatever archaic organizations still rely on this stuff can always go hire someone else to maintain it. IBM has traditionally been fairly supportive of open source, and this would be a good opportunity to contribute to it without losing anything of substantial financial value.

Re:Will they be open-sourcing it? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43780885)

+1 funny.

Re:Will they be open-sourcing it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43780983)

+1 Insightful

Re:Will they be open-sourcing it? (5, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#43780989)

It shouldn't be an option. If they refuse to sell or license it, it should be automatically put into the public domain.

Re:Will they be open-sourcing it? (4, Insightful)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about a year ago | (#43781019)

I'd like to see an abandonware law, too. For software, anyone applying for a copyright should have to put the source code in escrow, and it would be automatically released a certain period of time (say, 1 year) after the company stops selling it.

Re:Will they be open-sourcing it? (4, Informative)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about a year ago | (#43781113)

It's a good news/bad news situation.

Good News: Currently IP law *is* abandonware. It sunsets the monopolies.

Bad News: It sunsets about as fast as a Venusian day

We obviously need to fix the latter, but fortunately the Founding Fathers new these things should be 'limited'.

Re:Will they be open-sourcing it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43781221)

The sun never comes out until the source sees the light of day.

Re:Will they be open-sourcing it? (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#43781125)

Seems like the only way to make copyright law do what it was meant to (at least in America): advance the useful arts and sciences. Of course, you'd have to find ways around conflicts of interest in the cases of products which have been superceded but in the same line. I.e. Microsoft Office 2000 vs the current product.

Re:Will they be open-sourcing it? (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | about a year ago | (#43781139)

I didn't think that you had to apply for copyright - it's automatic.

An abandonware law would be nice - we could get hold of the source code for previous Windows versions and have a good laugh.

Re:Will they be open-sourcing it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43781205)

I didn't think that you had to apply for copyright - it's automatic.

In the US, this has only been the case since it became a Berne Convention signatory. But obviously that happened 25 years ago.

Re:Will they be open-sourcing it? (4, Insightful)

Picass0 (147474) | about a year ago | (#43781179)

Interesting idea, but it could easily be sidestepped. For intance would be easy for a company to pepper their software with simple library files that do very little in terms of logic. As long as these dummy files are used in newer products they could claim "there are pieces of code in that discontinued product still in use, we cannot release the source to the public" That said, IBM has been decent about open sourcing stuff in the past and it's wouldn't suprise me to see 1-2-3 become GPL.

Re:Will they be open-sourcing it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43781181)

For software, anyone applying for a copyright should have to put the source code in escrow, and it would be automatically released a certain period of time (say, 1 year) after the company stops selling it.

The grandparent post had it right, it should be in the PD. The source, however, is none of your fucking business, especially since it may be encumbered by the intellectual property of other organizations who are still selling their stuff (such as system libraries).

Re:Will they be open-sourcing it? (1)

Desler (1608317) | about a year ago | (#43781237)

For software, anyone applying for a copyright

Do you live in a country that isn't a Berne Convention signatory? Because unless you do, no one has to apply for a copyright since the Berne Convention explicitly prohibits such a requirement.

Re:Will they be open-sourcing it? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43781327)

While I support the spirit of the concept(it's kind of insane that software that is so commercially irrelevant that you can't even hunt somebody down and force them to take your money may still be under copyright until after most of us posting right now are dead), I suspect that such a law would, in practice, lead to a lot of 'on sale in name only' arrangements:

Using Amazon Glacier(just because they have a handy price sheet, not necessarily because they are the best), you can store seldom-accessed data for 1 cent per gigabyte, per month. Let's make the (probably pessimistic) assumption that your software product occupies an entire DVD9, so call it 10GB. For $1.20/year, you can have Amazon squirrel it away. Transfer from the glacier vault to the web is another buck-twenty per transfer.

When you want to discontinue a product, you could just jack up the list price by 10x-100x(depending on whether it was originally cheapy shrinkwrap or expensive enterprise stuff) to discourage anybody from actually trying it, and then keep it in the back of the catalog for as long as you want. Per decade doing so would cost less than a couple of decent six-packs...

Re:Will they be open-sourcing it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43781453)

Register for a copyright? Are you a time traveller from the 19th century?

Re:Will they be open-sourcing it? (1)

Mike Frett (2811077) | about a year ago | (#43781129)

I like that Idea. If a Company has a product that it refuses to sell, license, update, support or any other option that allows people to continuing to use their product for whatever reasons; then, the Company should have two options:

A) Open Source
B) Placed in Public Domain without the Source Code.

The whole thing works itself out. If it's Open Sourced, people can make it better and have a alternative. If It's released freely without the Source, eventually usage of the product would halt as host Operating Systems progressed, which is what the Company wanted in the first place. It's same as if you legalized Drugs, the addict would eventually stop using, or OD which ends the subjects life -- problem resolves itself.

Re:Will they be open-sourcing it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43781295)

Hell no. Don't get me wrong - I think open-sourcing unsold products is fantastic, but there could easily be proprietary code used in other, "active" products within Lotus' codebase.

Re:Will they be open-sourcing it? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43781173)

The code is archaic. I think that support moved from Cambridge, Massachusetts to India almost 15 years ago, and IBM (Lotus' parent) never showed any inclination to add new features or update the UI.

Copyright Act of 1790 (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | about a year ago | (#43781305)

If the Copyright Act of 1790 were still in force, the first version of Lotus Notes 1-2-3 Millennium Edition from 1998 would have become public domain last year.

Re:Will they be open-sourcing it? (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about a year ago | (#43781343)

No can do.

Open sourcing the software would reveal the secrets of the technology behind their "uncopyable" install floppy disk.

Re:Will they be open-sourcing it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43781609)

Well since almost no one uses floppy disks for installing software anymore this shouldn't be a problem. ;-)

Re:Will they be open-sourcing it? (1)

jader3rd (2222716) | about a year ago | (#43781467)

then open-sourcing the code might be a nice goodwill gesture.

That also might make it very easy for malware writers to be able to find security holes in it. On the other hand, would malware writers even bother to target something that has such low marketshare?

Too Bad. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#43780869)

Lotus 123 use to be the main business spreadsheet, and combined with word perfect, you were ready for business.

But I guess DOS is now done.

Re:Too Bad. (2)

gewalker (57809) | about a year ago | (#43780945)

When MS released its office bundle that included Excel, and Word for less than the price of either 1-2-3 or WordPerfect, it was the beginning of the end for those products -- the MS office was "good enough" for most users and the price was a real factor when you were buying for a corporation.

Re:Too Bad. (2)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#43781147)

I've personally found gnumeric does everything I need. Makes it hard to take the "need" for commercial spreadsheet programs a little less convincing.

Re:Too Bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43781279)

Except that the gnumeric folks tend to make changes and then change the documentation later when someone gets around to it. We finally switched over to libreoffice here because people got tired of having to comb the web and irc to figure out the new way to do something. Too bad. I liked gnumeric better. It has everything we need and is a lighter weight than libreoffice.

Re:Too Bad. (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#43781507)

That's a common problem in the opensource world, unfortunately. There are projects who handle it better than others, but they're in the minority.

Re:Too Bad. (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#43781529)

It wasn't just DOS, although that was its stronghold. There were also versions available for: Unix, Macintosh, Windows, and OS/2.

Hmm, didn't know this though: Lotus 1-2-3 [wikipedia.org] : "The charting/graphing routines were written in Forth [wikipedia.org] by Jeremy Sagan (son of Carl Sagan)"

I believe that reference to Forth should be, "the fabulous Forth language."

How about open-sourcing it? (4, Interesting)

cpghost (719344) | about a year ago | (#43780871)

Not that we really need yet another spreadsheet program, but if IBM doesn't intend to use this code base anymore, how about releasing its source code to the public?

Re:How about open-sourcing it? (4, Interesting)

CrankyFool (680025) | about a year ago | (#43781033)

Opensourcing a project can be a pain in the ass (I work at a company that tries to opensource most of its infrastructure systems), what with internal assumptions, potential information leaks, and auditing for potentially licensed code that you're not allowed to release in its uncompiled form.

I don't see a ton of people out there clamouring for 1-2-3 to be opensourced, to be honest, other than people who are just reflexively arguing for opensourcing anything that's discontinued. I'm not saying that's a bad argument, but it's certainly a weak one, and I don't see IBM getting a particularly great ROI for doing the work to opensource 1-2-3.

Re:How about open-sourcing it? (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about a year ago | (#43781143)

I don't see IBM getting a particularly great ROI for doing the work to opensource 1-2-3

unfortunately 'good will' doesn't usually factor into such calculations. There's plenty of benefit for IBM, just not financial.

Re:How about open-sourcing it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43781353)

Corporate valuate everything financially.

Good will will be converted to a money value and evaluated from a financial poingt of view..

Any benefit for IBM, to be evaluated by managers, has to be converted to a money figure and then can be discussed. if it can't be converted to money, it will not be discussed.

That's how corporates work. the rest is myth.

Re:How about open-sourcing it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43781047)

I'd rather have them contribute actively to Libre Office or OO.o

Re:How about open-sourcing it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43781099)

You do realize that it's IBM that pushed Oracle to put OpenOffice.org as an Apache project and IBM employees are the bulk of the developers, right? Also they did contribute to OO.org for many years prior to that.

Re:How about open-sourcing it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43781177)

Eh, didn't they rename OpenOffice to LibreOffice?

DOS ain't done til Lotus don't run! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43780925)

(apocryphal slogan ascribed to Microsoft engineers in the early 1990s, who were accused of using inside knowledge of OS internals to the advantage of their own application development groups)

Re:DOS ain't done til Lotus don't run! (5, Interesting)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about a year ago | (#43781145)

I've heard a similar slogan with "Windows" instead of "DOS", as well as variations with "WordPerfect" instead of "Lotus". The fact that the quote has so many variations, and that no one can seem to pin down who said it and when, makes me suspicious that the whole thing is an urban legend.

Did Microsoft engage in anti-competitive behavior? Absolutely. Did this typically involve trying to deliberately break user-space software? No. In fact, as Raymond Chen has repeatedly noted in his blog, a lot of effort went into making compatibility hacks so badly written software would still work on Windows.

The fact is that neither Lotus nor WordPerfect ever successfully managed the transition from DOS text-mode to Windows GUI. This is due to a lot of factors, including bad management; W. Pete Peterson's book Almost Perfect is unintentionally revealing of this, since it indicates how the WordPerfect company under Peterson treated its employees like crap. They thought that GUIs were a passing fad and that they could stick with text-mode forever. Sure, the fact that the Office development team could ask other people in the same company for support may have helped on the margins, but other companies were writing good Windows software at the same time. Lotus and WordPerfect just plain didn't bother trying.

Re:DOS ain't done til Lotus don't run! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43781583)

The quote came from making sure Windows didn't run on top of DR DOS.

The original /. (5, Insightful)

XB-70 (812342) | about a year ago | (#43780965)

God, it brings back memories: an 8086 with 256k of RAM, 8 1/2" floppies....

Using / as the main way of navigating spreadsheets...

1-2-3 you gave me my start, not just in spreadsheets, but in computers. Thank you and goodbye, old friend.

Sniff.

Re:The original /. (5, Funny)

cdrudge (68377) | about a year ago | (#43781083)

God, it brings back memories: ...8 1/2" floppies

Things are always remembered bigger then what they really were.

Re:The original /. (1)

jijitus (1478465) | about a year ago | (#43781175)

8" were not used on PC's AFAIK... you mean the 5 1/4" ones.

Re:The original /. (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#43781259)

Not on IBM PCs but there were other brands out there that had the 8 1/2" floppy drives.. 5 1/4 was new-fangled stuff. I had a DEC Rainbow 100 with 5 1/4 and 8" floppy drives. The 8" was for DEC 10s and 20s for bootloader mods for the PDP 11/40 front ends.

Re:The original /. (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about a year ago | (#43781457)

8" were not used on PC's AFAIK... you mean the 5 1/4" ones.

While I've never seen a DOS computer with an 8" drive, but I've certainly seen single-user desktop CP/M systems with them, and that's technically a personal computer.

Re:The original /. (1)

rvw (755107) | about a year ago | (#43781137)

God, it brings back memories: an 8086 with 256k of RAM, 8 1/2" floppies....

Using / as the main way of navigating spreadsheets...

1-2-3 you gave me my start, not just in spreadsheets, but in computers. Thank you and goodbye, old friend.

Sniff.

I remember SuperCalc, on my SuperBrain... CP/M, 64KB RAM, monochrome, two 160KB floppies, and one of them could fit the OS, Wordstar, Supercalc, DBase II and many other programs on it. And thank god for double sided floppies which required flipping of course. Yeah flipping floppies those were the days! ;-)

Re:The original /. (1)

slimdave (710334) | about a year ago | (#43781331)

Yes, it's burned also into my brain ... /rnd = "Range -> Name -> Delete" etc.. I calculated torpedo drop trajectories in Lotus 1-2-3 back in the day ... good times ....

Lotus -- OpenOffice (4, Informative)

enterix (5252) | about a year ago | (#43781021)

Latest versions of Lotus brand suite were based on OpenOffice. Symphony was just the Lotus style shell over it. There was no native version for years. Anyway, it is interesting how IBM can walk away from products with arms... Hard drives, ThinkPads, now Lotus...

Re:Lotus -- OpenOffice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43781429)

Add the x Series servers soon as well, they are selling that off to Lenovo next. IBM is going backwards to only supporting the Mainframe at the rate they keep heading.

Re:Lotus -- OpenOffice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43781469)

Not just ThinkPads, but their entire PC line (ThinkCentre). It's just a matter of time before IBM walks away from their server lines as well.

OO support (5, Informative)

anybody_out_there (2814321) | about a year ago | (#43781025)

Now if (Open|Libre)Office would just do a decent job of not mangling Lotus 1-2-3 worksheets! I have some stuff I've been maintaining for over 20 years in Lotus 1-2-3 (starting back in the DOS days, but eventually moving to '97). I'd love to convert/upgrade it, but there are some things in there that just don't seem to be supported in Excel or *Office.

The end of history (4, Interesting)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about a year ago | (#43781053)

In the same way VisiCalc made the Apple ][, Lotus 123 made the IBM PC. Later, when people said "IBM compatible", what they really meant was "123 compatible", because it wrote directly to the video memory, rather than doing screen output through BIOS calls; so "compatible" hardware had to address its video memory the same way IBM did.

Re:The end of history (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43781581)

Also, WordPro, which I used in 1996, was the best word processor that ever existed.

Its key advantages were those three:

1. The InfoBox. Think all style options in one box. No menus, modal dialogs, icon bars or stupid ribbons needed. (The ribbon is a rip-off done the wrong way.) It also had a drop-down on top to pick the element in the document hierarchy for which to set the style.
2. Proper class system with inheritance. That way you could actually use the classes to design your document consistently. (Try that in OpenOffice. Itâ(TM)s a nightmare!) Every change you made from the class, was marked with a red dot next to the element in the InfoBox. Save it as a new class, select what to inherit, done. After a while you had your own style library and all your business documents looked really consistent and really good.
3. Proper frame-based layouting. Put your frames where you want, define which frame spills into which next frame. Add text freely flowing around arbitrary shaped objects. As opposed to others, it actually worked and didn't feel limited!

And with them you could do almost anything. Sure, it was no TeX or professional DTP program. But WordPro really was Word Pro. It was to word processing what Qalculate! is to calculators. Not a Mathematica or Matlab, but far from being just a dumb MS Calc.

So farewell, old friend. I will always keep a virtual machine with you around. Always.

The PC "killer application" (4, Insightful)

Alejux (2800513) | about a year ago | (#43781081)

Some people don't realize the importance of this software. Lotus 1-2-3 is what made the majority of people want to buy an IBM PC back in the day.

And a tip of the hat to Context MBA (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | about a year ago | (#43781235)

Oh, my, sic transit Gloria mundi. I don't think anyone ever called it "Lotus 1-2-3," it was just "Lotus..." nobody knew that or if Lotus had any other product. But let's also take time for a tip of the hat to the utterly forgotten Context MBA.

"Integrated software" was very much in the air then. In fact for many years, and contrary to popular belief at the time, Appleworks outsold Lotus 1-2-3, but was "invisible" because it was sold directly by Apple while the bestseller lists were compiled from sales by distributors like Ingram and Corporate Software.

I believe Context MBA actually preceded Lotus 1-2-3, and was a very, very impressive achievement at the time. In addition to 1-2-3's three functions, it also had a reasonably capable low-end word processor--think WordPad--and a decent communications package/terminal emulator (you could use it to download data to put into the spreadsheet). It had a decent user interface and a high degree of integration--it wasn't just a suite. But it had an interesting Achilles heel: it was written in UCSD Pascal for portability.

"Portability" was sort of trendy at the time, because there was such a zoo of incompatible PC architectures. (The shakeout and dominance of the IBM PC architecture happened with surprising speed). Pascal and C vied for language of choiceCoding for portability had worked wonderfully well for Multiplan, Microsoft's spreadsheet. In a world of dozens of incompatible personal computer architectures, Microsoft could deliver Multiplan quickly on everything. (I remember a friend using it on his Commodore 64). But it imposed a performance penalty, which for some reason wasn't too bad with Multiplan but was with Context MBA, and it ran sluggishly on the IBM PC.

Lotus took the diametrically opposite track, writing in assembly language and often breaking the rules and bypassing OS and BIOS to write directly to the hardware. Lotus 1-2-3 actually became a standard informal test of PC compatibility; it wouldn't run on anything that wasn't a very faithful clone of the PC. Because of its speed, it virtually erased Context MBA from the market and from collective memory.

My personal limited experience with Context MBA was on an HP9800, a 68000-based 1981-vintage $10,000 desktop computer intended for scientific and technical applications, with good HP-IB (IEEE-488) capability. On that platform, Context MBA ran well and was a solid and very likable piece of software.

Re:And a tip of the hat to Context MBA (1)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about a year ago | (#43781623)

"Portability" was sort of trendy at the time, because there was such a zoo of incompatible PC architectures. (The shakeout and dominance of the IBM PC architecture happened with surprising speed). Pascal and C vied for language of choiceCoding for portability had worked wonderfully well for Multiplan, Microsoft's spreadsheet. In a world of dozens of incompatible personal computer architectures, Microsoft could deliver Multiplan quickly on everything. (I remember a friend using it on his Commodore 64).

The most popular home computers of the early 1980s – Commodore 64, Atari 800, and Apple II – all used some variant of a 6502 CPU. Therefore, it was possible to get "portable" code between these architectures while still coding in assembly, as long as you kept your display and I/O code well isolated in separate subroutines. Those were the only sections that would need to be rewritten. You would not get IBM PC compatibility this way, but at the time, the PC cost significantly more than the 6502-based computers, and didn't really offer that many advantages for the average user. It was used more in businesses than in homes, and the two types of software markets were more separate from each other than they are now.

The Commodore 64's CPU ran at a mere 1 MHz, so it was hard to get decent speed on any kind of application or game unless you coded in assembly.

One of the first true memory-mapped display apps. (5, Interesting)

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) | about a year ago | (#43781255)

that made skillful use use of reverse characters and color (oh how we loved those beautiful 80x24 8 color character displays... sigh) to create a working environment that was comfortable to be immersed in. A proposition with. Compared to everything else the data SNAPPED onto the screen. For many of us Lotus was the first application to deliver the experience of scrolling through data vertically and horizontally so smoothly you got an actual sense of movement, without that whole-screen redraw-flicker that we had come to tolerate from software.

Of course this wasn't the only fine memory-mapped experience. I give fond greets to Vector Graphic S-100 Systems and their wonderful word processor MEMORITE, whose line jumping word wrap as you type was so smooth and flicker-free professional typists took to it easily.

I used to maintain an S-100 system at a local attorney's office and they had awful problems with dust from their brick wall being sucked into the machines. I'd get a call from the secretary saying "Get over here quick! It's changing the spelling on the screen right in front of me again!" I'd ask, "Give me an example?" And she'd say something like "all the 'p' are changing to 't'."

So I'd show up and take down the system and remove the S-100 memory card full of 4k RAM chips in sockets, say to myself "okay, bit 2" and count over from the edge of the card and pry up, re-seat the appropriate chip. Then replace and test, all good now. Then I'd ask, "Would you like me to perform general maintenance and re-seat them all?" and She'd say "No -- we're in a hurry!"

Job security. Not a bad service contract gig for a 17-year-old.

Now that Microsoft has decided to adopt the UI... (5, Informative)

DougReed (102865) | about a year ago | (#43781377)

Gee and just after Microsoft decided to adopt the silly flat tile User Interface paradigm too. You would think its popularity would surge.

Unintuitive interface... check.
Nothing works quite right... check.
Square confusing tiles in a grid... check.

It should be the Windows 8 standard!

Ami Pro ... loved it! (1)

Necroloth (1512791) | about a year ago | (#43781441)

My first computer had Ami Pro (before it was bought by Lotus and becoming Lotus Word Pro) and it was brilliant! Even the Help was great - had an interactive tutorial which was useful for first timers.

Re:Ami Pro ... loved it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43781565)

Yeah, Word Pro might be a different matter. Not that it wouldn't be showing its age, but there just aren't a lot of full featured word processors out there right now.

Goodbye Flickr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43781497)

Yahoo turned it into Windows 8. I'm surprised this isn't on Slashdot. Maybe Slashdot will get a tile interface too.

Die Notes (1)

DrXym (126579) | about a year ago | (#43781607)

Notes is without doubt the worst software I have ever had the misfortune to use. It's slow to start, extremely unintuitive (even 8.5), unforgiving, buggy as hell, baroque, and employs terminology and idioms which are meaningless in the modern world. It really sucks in every way a piece of software can suck. I probably wouldn't care if I had to run it once in a blue moon but this heap of wank is how I'm supposed to communicate with colleagues and organise my calendar. I cannot fathom how it manages to cling on so tenaciously in certain corporations when it is so awful.
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