Upon their release in the early 80’s Microsoft Excel and Lotus 1-2-3 offered similar products measured by both quality and efficiency. They each associated themselves with different systems which in turn determined their place in the market for the next two decades. It seems that we may be embarking on another turn of events with the availability of free web hosted applications such as Google Docs & Spreadsheets and Zoho Office.

Lotus was not the only spreadsheet program in the early 80’s but it was the most efficient. Following its release in 1983 Lotus was innovative in using television consumer advertising. Things looked great for Lotus for a number of years due to its speed and similarity to the model of VisiCalc, including the A1 number and letter cells, and slash-menu structure. It was virtually free of bugs and outperformed the slower DOS screen input/output functions. In addition to being a spreadsheet it also featured integral charting/graphing and database operations. Hence, its name 1-2-3 which references its three main capabilities.

Data was sorted in each defined rectangle within the order of data in one or two columns in the rectangular area. One could also justify text within a certain range into paragraphs which allowed it to act as a primitive word processor. It contained user friendly features such as keyboard driven pop-up menus and one-key-commands. Lotus’ most notable user friendly feature was a context sensitive help menu accessed by the F1 key.

Version 2.0 introduced macros and add-ins. This resulted in outside vendors being able to sell macro and add-ins packages which ranged form full fledged word processors to dedicated financial worksheets. Version 2.0 contained macros with syntax and commands as well as a string of variable expressions which were similar in complexity to an advanced BASIC interpreter. In versions to follow Lotus 1-2-3 also supported multiple worksheets. Lotus also created a version of 1-2-3 for the HP 200LX, a palmtop released by Hewlett-Packard.

Excel was offered first for Mac in 1985 and then for Windows in 1987. In comparison to Lotus, Excel’s introduction offered all the number crunching capabilities plus pull down menus and WYSIWYG formatting. These two features resulted in Excel being much easier to use. By 1988 Excel outsold 1-2-3 and began to solidify its place as the leading PC software developer. Microsoft proved to be an ambitious competitor, by maintaining a valuble product and releasing new versions approximately every two years. Excel has also kept up with its Mac releases. The current version for the Windows is Excel 12 or Microsoft Office Excel 2007. The current version for Mac OS X is Microsoft Excel 2008.

Looking back, it seems that in 1982 when Microsoft offered its spreadsheet program titled Multiplan it was popular with CP/M systems but MS-DOS systems favored Lotus 1-2-3. MS-DOS clearly prevailed as the more predominant system, thus, Lotus 1-2-3 as the more predominant spreadsheet program. In the late 80’s Microsoft put together Excel, an upstart spreadsheet for its Windows graphical interface. Lotus was focused on IBM OS/2. Windows use boomed with Windows 3.0 but Lotus had already lost its lead. Excel become the industry leader for spreadsheet computer software. IBM continues to sell 1-2-3 as part of the Lotus SmartSuite office suite.

The trends are shifting again with the availability of free web hosted applications such as Google Docs & Spreadsheets and Zoho Office. This is sure to provide a challenge for Excel to maintain its prestigious position however; it will not be a clear comparison as the online applications are a different product. They do not imitate Excel and 1-2-3 but expand on them. They use the power of the webs collaboration, instant feedback, mashups, live data and context searches. None the less it will be interesting to see Microsoft’s future maneuvers!

7 thoughts on “Lotus 1-2-3 Vs. Excel Vs. Google Docs & Spreadsheets?

  1. skowdragon

    If ya had one more day….?
    ok, this is about the book and movie, I want to know, If ya had one more day with someone loved and lost, who would it be?
    mine would be my grandmother who died of lupus when i was 3.
    now ur turn.

    1. Annie

      I would spend it with the man I love most to assure his doubting heart that I love no one else but him. Love is strange, when you think you’ve found the right man, love leaves you with an aching throbbing broken heart that makes you numb and unfeeling.

  2. Isadora

    For Muslims , I pluck my eyebrows does that make me cursed?
    I am a Muslim and I read a Hadith in my book of “Feqh of Sunnah” , and I was shocked by this Hadith which curses the girls who wear wegs , pluck their brows and widen the spaces between their teeth artificially.
    Curse is a big word for this , why? WHY?
    Why shall I carry a curse to my grave for removing a single hair from my eyebrows? Is that fair?
    Will Allah like women walking in the streets with hairy brows like the men? Allah is beautiful which loves beauty !
    What if I lost my hair by a chemotherapy or systemic lupus erythematosis , and I wanted to cover my scalp by a weg , Shall I carry a curse to my grave for this too?

    Sorry , I began to question this religion after reading hadiths and my questioning to it will end either by leaving it or attaching to it more , and expect from me more questions about these issues .
    True answers needed and non Muslims are welcomed but without bashing , pls!
    and pls no one tells me that plucking the brows is mutilation for Allah’s creation , we are in the era of the contact lenses and plastic surgeries which totally changes the shape!
    Scotgirl , if you can read Arabic , I will post down this Hadith for you from a cerificated book I had!
    Muslima, I will question everything from now one here and I want the truth and nothing but the truth .
    I will not caryy a religion without questioning every detail in it , and I am waiting for you to participate and tell me that I am wrong .
    I will post the hadith in Arabic if you can read it to prove my words.
    Happily Happy , frankly I knew it is haram 10 years ago from my teachers in the school , but I am doing it and I will do it , and I don’t see that it is a sin to look more clean and pretty!
    Repentance ?! repentance of what?
    Did I steal something? Did I kill someone? repentance for a hair I removed from my brow line?!!!!
    I thumb all my answeres up regardless to their answer as long as it isn’t humilating!
    for those who asked about the Hadith in impolite way , here is its source ,
    عن أبي هريره أن امرأه جاءت إلي النبي صلي الله عليه و سلم فقالت : يا رسول الله إن لي ابنة عروسا و قد تمزق شعرها من حصبه أفأصله؟
    فقال عليه الصلاه و السلام: “لعن الله الواصله و المستوصله , و الواشمه و المستوشمه , و النامصه و المتنمصه , و المتفلجات للحسن المغيرات خلق الله

    1. Rokaya

      isadora, my dear, noone is perfect, and i promise you noone follows islam in 100%. do as much as you can.
      i pluck my eyebrows too but i believe Allah will forgive me if i will fulfill my main duties as Muslim. isn’t He forgiving and marciful?
      and note to all that are very strict in religion – i know i shouldn’t do this, but i do. so if someone want to criticize me please look at yourself first.

  3. Crystal

    Planning a Vacation to Germany For my deployed husband and myself and need to know the best place to stay.?
    I need a place where I can find a reasonable, yet nice hotel. It’s important to me that it’s kind of centered between several places tourist would like to see on their first visit to Germany. I also need to know what someone going for the first time might want to see. Any and All Suggestions are welcome. A little background.. I am a English Lit Major and love anything book related. I am also a lover of art. My husband is currently deployed in Afghanistan and this trip will be on his R&R and it will be our first time seeing one another in 8 months. It’s also going to be our Anniversary. I suffer from lupus.. so we can;t do any hiking or nature-related things.

    I look forward to suggestions… both on where to visit and which city to stay in… I don’t mind a city that is a smaller town and therefore cheaper to stay in… and taking a ride to destinations…

    Thanks again
    I forgot to add, my husband is a huge history buff.. and anything history related he will adore.. He is also of German decent. We also are both huge indie music fans… if that helps.

    1. Bimbo

      There are so many places in Germany to visit
      I suggest some place not too far from Munich you have many museums in Munich and maybe if you chose a place in between Munich and Nuremberg visit Nuremberg too.

      The Rhineland is interesting place too

      But stay away from places in the former GDR it is dangerous for non Germans to go there there are a lot of communists and of Neo Nazis on the streets there.

  4. Sophia Wu

    What do you think of my college essay? Does it flow right?
    I wrote my Common App essay, but then copy and pasted it into letter format for one of my supplemental college essays for a college that doesn’t use the Common App (St. Mary’s.) Let me know if it still transitions and flows right.

    Essay Prompt #2: You are about to write your future college roommate a letter. Please provide the roommate with a personal story that will give him/her some insight into your personality.

    Dear Claire,

    My name is Sophia and I’m going to be your roommate next year. First of all, I’m so excited to meet you! I’ve been looking forward to going to St. Mary’s for a long time, so I hope we’ll have a great year together. Second, I’d like to tell you about a personal journey I went through during my junior year. It’s about how I overcame writer’s block through handling my problems. I think it’s important because it’s influenced so much of who I am today.

    I love that feeling of opening up a new document and seeing the blankness upon my laptop screen. It’s a page of promise and possibilities that range from the opening chapters of a novel to the thought-provoking comparative politics essay. I even love the sound of typing as I take my disorganized thoughts and craft them into powerful, coherent sentences. Every detail I notice, every emotion I feel, and every experience I encounter is displayed in front of me as I type. After hours of editing and re-editing, I can finally look upon my work and feel proud. I am a writer.

    Since I was a child, my favorite activities have been reading and writing. My mother used to tell me stories of how I would make her stay up all night reading books to me because I could never get enough of their excitement, even if it meant putting off sleep. As I grew a little older, I started making my own stories, filled with illustrations and the about-the-author excerpt on the back page. From handmade picture books, I transitioned into writing full-length fictional novels. I loved creating characters – mostly females who were a little older than me — and imagining their physical appearance, the sound of their voices, their lifestyles, and the people who would influence them. I wrote about young women who struggled with lost love, abuse, and regret, reflecting upon the struggles that people face every day.

    I found my inspiration through observing the way people react emotionally to their problems. I am a wallflower; I tend to witness the pain of others without ever going through it myself. I listened to my friends and family members confide their problems: abandonment, alcoholism, death, and divorce, to name a few. I was someone people turned to when they wanted someone to listen to them or provide a shoulder to cry on. It was easy for me to understand the emotions they were going through during these tough times, even if I didn’t fully understand all the details.

    However, during my junior year, I stopped writing. I had one of the worst cases of writer’s block; it was as if my constant flow of inspiration had come to an abrupt halt. Concurrently, my junior year was one of the most difficult years I have ever faced. The pressures of academics and social life had increased, but the problems at home were even more difficult. That year, I rarely ever saw my father. He worked and lived part-time in China, so he would come home every three or four months. Meanwhile, my mother’s lupus had worsened. I often had to miss school to stay home and take care of her. I hated watching her fade.

    It wasn’t until I went to China this summer that I started to see myself in a new light. Away from the stress of my problems, I felt freer, as if I could start over. I started to re-focus on doing the things that I loved, especially writing. Every day, I would write something new about myself. The more I expressed myself, the better I was able to sit back and take a more objective perspective on my problems, the same way I viewed my friends’ and family’s problems. I began to accept the fact that although I couldn’t control what happened to me, I could control how I managed it. Writing was therapeutic, and in turn, sparked a re-discovery of inspiration as I came to understand myself. The blank page on my laptop screen was once again full of promise and possibility.

    I’m glad that I had the opportunity to share this with you. I look forward to getting to know you – see you at St. Mary’s!


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