Un, deux, trois

There’s quite a few of us old buggers on this forum… Sure I’m not the only one who used Lotus 123 back in the day…

Anyway - I subscribe to Bryan Lunduke’s “stuff” and noted this the other day :



I actually learned the whole 123 Macro language - it was incredible, you could write a whole application in 123’s macro language! *

I have floppies buried away somewhere with “archival” backup copies of 123 (the real version, 2.x I think - not the DOS “3D” version of 123, or the Windows version, that futilely tried to compete with MS Excel…

Sure there was nothing special about 123, and it was basically Mitch Kapor cloning what Visicalc could do, for 8 bit Intel systems (8086 / 8088)…

* I did write a whole “system” in 123 Macro language for an “applications” unit when I was at Uni, and got a “A” - i.e. something like 95% or more (but wasn’t reflected in my overall result for the semester, as I got “marked down”)…

Sometimes when I’m hitting “:” or “/” in vi, reminds me of using Lotus 123 :smiley:


Yes I used Lotus.
There is a reasonable Linux spreadsheet called gnumeric
Have you tried it? It reads excel files ok

I’ve no use for Gnumeric…

I have access to corporate Office 365 and MS Excel, on Macs or via the web interface to O365 (Excel online is very usable!).

I can use LibreOffice Calc anytime…

I can use Google Sheets anytime…

Having a console / terminal spreadsheet sounds like the duck’s nuts to me! Now that is INTERESTING!

I also wrote a shonky rough and ready shell script to display CSV files like they were spreadsheets, “cli-excel.bash”… the main ingredient of that shell script is the “column” command…

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Wow 123 takes me back in time.
I was very lucky in my early days of teaching computing and business to work for 2 different ITeCs and pushed them into becoming Lotus authorised training centres.
I started on version 1and installed it on a network of DOS machines, then went to version 2 and on to 3. Great memories of seeing 3d spreadsheet at the uk launch.
Sadly the windows version and apple mac versions just could not compete with excel.
On the same front taught Lotus symphony,
With windows came freelance, aproach, and ami pro, wordpro …
Even became a authorised trainer and system engineer.
The purchase by IBM and Lotus notes perhaps not a good move for the company.

Now prefer libre office but bet i could still do the macro language if pressed.

Dont think i need to install on my linux box for now, but never know

They say nostalgia isn’t like it used to be, but that remark is in fact quite topical. You can buy a book on the dreaded VBA with the weekly shopping, but you’re unlikely to find one on whatever alternative LibreOffice is offering. Last time I looked it up, I got the impression the LibreOffice people don’t approve of amateurs writing code, on the grounds that they’re amateurs and that companies have crashed like that. So you can’t even use LO for making flashcards for language teaching and so on, whereas there’s a plethora of choice to download from the VBA/Excel ecosystem.

I use LO as a matter of principle, but really shouldn’t. For example, I can’t lock the layout of a Calc spreadsheet so the the user can enter data without worrying about wrecking the whole thing; that’s critical for a small family enterprise sending out a legally-binding invoice. I did a bug report a few years ago. They said it’s a genuine bug, but unsquashable because, apparently, it had escaped the attention (wonder why?) of the committee that designed the odf file format.

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I used SuperCalc 3 when I was in college. That was out before Lotus 123.

Lotus was my epiphany app. I used spreadsheets forever after that. It was the original “what if” app. To me, it was what made computers useful and marked the beginning of the rise of the machine. It was the first truly powerful application.

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You’re probably right… I remember when it was a paid NIX app called “Star Office” - I vaguely remember wanting a copy, but not desperately…

Sun Microsystems bought it - and made it free as “Open Office”… Sun hardware and system software used to be my bread and butter… One day a Sun “engineer” emailed me an ODF document, I couldn’t open it - he suggested installing Open Office for Windows - which I promptly did, and it KILLED my Java install and stopped my ability to run the Enterprise Backup Server management app (EMC Legato Networker)… What a piece of crap! I ended up having to VNC to a Solaris machine to run EMC Legato Networker Java GUI app - so much for Java being a write once, run anywhere bullshit answer…

I don’t know who pays the bills at Open/Libre Office these days, I doubt anyone from Oracle would want that responsibility, doesn’t fit with Larry Ellison’s modus operandi… I reckon he only bought Sun so he could get all the Java patents and sue the crap out of Google…

More “character / text” based spreadsheeting solutions here :


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Things that made computers useful (for me)

  • Fortran compiler
  • Improvements in disc storage and memory
  • Access. A keyboard and screen is a long way ahead of punched cards or paper tape
  • Splus and R ( I use R like a spreadsheet)
  • Practice

I am sure others have a different experience. Lets hear about it?
What is your epiphany moment?

Dear Daniel,

I have used Lotus123 and it was one of the premium software at that point of time.

Thanks, I tried Gnumeric today, loading a LIbre Office Calc file with four columns of data and a line chart with three plotted series versus date. The chart didn’t come in correctly, but with some work on it I was able to get it put back in order, so I will give this a try for a while. It does seem to be a little easier to figure out how to do things. Is there a word processor you prefer over L.O.Writer?

I dont use a word processor I am afraid.
I use a text formater called Latex. It is mostly used for typesetting mathematics. Old habit, but it dies hard.

Yes, gnumeric seems OK for my elementary usage. It reads excel files OK.

I woke this up again - 'cause I saw another item come up on my news feed about getting 123 running on Linux…

See the stack of reel tapes. Those huge cabinets where the guy is standing are tape drives.
I have never seen that unit at the front with speedo dials?

Reel tapes were just about the only form of external backup, until we got cassette tapes and floppies. Optical disks were an immense advance. I have what was once the contents of 5 reel tapes on a CD with space to spare. I think a CD could take about 15 reel tapes.

The world that Fortan started out in was very different from today. I remember using a computer that had no OS. You loaded the Fortran compiler from cards, then the compiler read your program from cards, and punched out the object file, statically compiled. Then you loaded the linker from cards, the linker read in your object file from cards, built an executable in memory, then you set the starting address and ran it. Any output was punched on cards. you took the cards to a tabulator if you wanted printed output… most people just read the cards directly.
Disks made a huge difference to that sort of thing. You could actually have an OS if you had a disk.

I have an un-open set of 3 1/2 disks of Lotus 123. Why I still have it, don’t know. And also have an un-open box of 5 1/4 and some used 8 inch floppy disks. Maybe a computer museum would like to have it one day.

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When I was in college the local paper sponsored a contest to guess the corn yield. I made a spreadsheet in SuperCalc 3 for them to determine the winner. In my first job out of college the fancy toy was Lotus Notes. That was an office suite with a spreadsheet. My next job finally the bean counters used Lotus 123 and so did my wife at her job.

This site has some info on SuperCalc 3. WinWorld: SuperCalc 3 v1.00

I used Supercalc in CP/M on an Osborne portable computer. It was my first encounter with a spreadsheet… and the last time I ever used one for serious work.
That Osborne was hardly portable… barely luggable.

Hideous product - I LOATHED supporting it… I think it started out as Lotus CC Mail - which I used (was my first email experience - LAN only - didn’t have internet email back in '92).

The trouble with Lotus Notes was that “amateurs” realised they could develop shonky apps in it - the last big “IBM” shop I worked at used it for our timesheeting system - it was a pig of a thing - that was late 1990’s… I still remember when they ported it to Windows NT - you had to run it inside CMD - and you had to manually start it from there - so any Windows NT server running notes had to autologin and run a batch file to kick off the server - ghastly - and usually wouldn’t survive a BSOD, and it did cause BSODs!

I supported 32 bit Notes server running on 64 bit Solaris in the late 2000’s early 2010’s - hideous… Flaky… Piece of crap… At that customer site - still running Windows XP - their SOE took 15 minutes to fully boot up and be able to send and receive email in Lotus Notes - unacceptable! We (IT colleagues) hated Lotus Notes so much we called it Lotus Scrotes…

Some of my current customers are still running Notes (on Solaris I think) - because of those SHONKY “developers” who rolled out “mission critical” multi-user apps running on and developed in, Lotus Notes… “Legacy” infrastructure my arse…

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I did infrequently support Lotus Notes. But I was wrong. The name of what I was thinking of was Lotus Symphony.

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Seeing the mention of gnumeric earlier in this topic, there is ssconvert which is part of gnumeric. Ssconvert converts between spread-sheet formats, I use it in a script to extract a column of data from an .xls spread-sheet.