Goodbye, Lotus 1-2-3

IBM is shutting the doors on Lotus 1-2-3, the software program that made the IBM PC and Microsoft household names.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

The first killer app was VisiCalc. This early spreadsheet turned the Apple II from a hobbyist toy to a business computer. VisiCalc came with room for improvement, though. In addition, a new architecture and operating system, the Intel-based IBM PC and MS-DOS, also needed a spreadsheet to be taken seriously. That spreadsheet, released in early 1983, would be Lotus 1-2-3, and it would change the world. It became the PC's killer app, and the world would never be the same.

On May 14, IBM quietly announced the end of the road for 1-2-3, along with Lotus Organizer and the Lotus SmartSuite office suite. Lotus 1-2-3's day is done.

Say goodbye to Lotus 1-2-3. Its day is finally done.
Image: Wikimedia

Far faster than its competition, such as SuperCalc and Microsoft's first spreadsheet, MultiPlan, Lotus 1-2-3 would become both IBM's and Microsoft's first killer app. With the opening of the Intel architecture and MS-DOS to IBM PC clones, Lotus 1-2-3 became the essential application for the 1980s PC revolution.

Its dominance would be short lived. 1-2-3 would face competition from programs such as Excel and Quatro Pro that would weaken its hold on the marketplace by the late 1980s. By the early 1990s, 1-2-3 had fallen into third place in the eyes of spreadsheet users. It would never recover.

When Microsoft Excel took over clear first place, Lotus was acquired by IBM in a hostile takeover in 1995. While the expected culture war between the ultra-liberal Lotus and the buttoned-down IBM never happened, the acquisition didn't breath any new life into Lotus 1-2-3.

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."

While Lotus' groupware client program Notes and its server component Domino will live on, IBM will no longer be offering any Lotus-branded programs. As for 1-2-3 itself, 30 years after it helped start the personal computing revolution, this essential PC program will be put out to pasture.

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