A mixed eulogy for Lotus 1-2-3

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Tuesday’s post about IBM discontinuing support for the venerable Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet sparked an amusing discussion on the news aggregation site Fark.com. Here’s a sampling:

There was wonderment:

“I'm surprised it was still supported. It's like finding out that Switzerland didn't allow all its female citizens to vote until 1990.”

Tales from the trenches:

“So ... I take it I'm the only one here that has Lotus 1-2-3 installed on their work computer?”

“Nope. My boss does. And when he's typing invoices in WordPerfect, he hits the space bar a bunch of times so the columns line up. Seriously.”

Good riddance.

“Ugh ...  Couldn't happen soon enough.

“I had a project with a fairly large trucking company, and the CFO was an evangelical Lotus 123 maven. He had a spreadsheet he had been working on for 20 years, it had something like 40 sheets in it, formulas that referenced cells on dozens of those, all to keep track of the P&L stats for a few dozen depots. He spent hours every week working on that thing.

“I was brought in to convert it to a db / web application. Even then he demanded that it be able to kick out reports in... You guessed it... Lotus 123. I had to get the president of the company to lean on him to allow Excel instead, Excel has COM interfaces that make generating spreadsheets trivial, Lotus has nothing of the sort.”

“Kept me gainfully employed for a while, disentangling a few zillion formulas.”

Some just can’t let go.  

“Recently had the director of one of our groups ask if we had a copy of 1-2-3 that we could install on his computer so they could access 15 yr old files. We had done it the year before by building an XP machine for that specific task and were told after 6 months that they had everything they needed.

“I was surprised that we still had a copy of the software around, but we told him that with XP no longer supported and patched we couldn't set it up anymore.”

Expressions of love.

“Loved Lotus 1-2-3, and the whole Lotus AmiPro/Smart suite was awesome. Used it all through undergrad/Law school and I still love it.”

And, finally, an enduring testimonial.

“I still use Lotus 1-2-3 2.4 on my HP 200LX palmtop from time to time. There's really no more efficient handheld spreadsheet for quick data entry even today. Trust me, I've looked.”

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