Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Chapter 1: Excel 2010: Where It Came From
giving it a snappy and responsive feel that was unusual for the time. The online help system was
a breakthrough, and the ingenious “moving bar” menu style set the standard for many years.
One feature that really set 1-2-3 apart, though, was its macro capability — a powerful tool that
enabled spreadsheet users to record their keystrokes to automate many procedures. When such
a macro was “played back,” the original keystrokes were sent to the application, and it was like a
super-fast typist was at the keyboard. Although a far cry from today’s macro capability, 1-2-3
macros were definitely a step in the right direction.
1-2-3 was not the first integrated package, but it was the first successful one. It combined (1) a
powerful electronic spreadsheet with (2) elementary graphics and (3) some limited but handy
database features. Easy as 1, 2, 3 — get it?
Lotus followed up the original 1-2-3 Release 1 with Release 1A in April 1983. This product enjoyed
tremendous success and put Lotus in the enviable position of virtually owning the spreadsheet
market. In September 1985, Release 1A was replaced by Release 2, which was a major upgrade
that was superseded by the bug-fixed Release 2.01 the following July. Release 2 introduced
addins, which are special-purpose programs that can be attached to give an application new features
and extend the application’s useful life. Release 2 also had improved memory management, more
functions, 8,192 rows (four times as many as its predecessor), and added support for a math
coprocessor. Release 2 also included some significant enhancements to the macro language.
Not surprisingly, the success of 1-2-3 spawned many clones — work-alike products that usually
offered a few additional features and sold at a much lower price. Among the more notable were
Paperback Software’s VP Planner series and Mosaic Software’s Twin. Lotus eventually took legal
action against Paperback Software for copyright infringement (for copying the “look and feel” of
1-2-3); the successful suit essentially put Paperback out of business.
In the summer of 1989, Lotus shipped DOS and OS/2 versions of the long-delayed 1-2-3 Release
3. This product literally added a dimension to the familiar row-and-column-based spreadsheet: It
extended the paradigm by adding multiple spreadsheet pages. The idea wasn’t really new,
however; a relatively obscure product called Boeing Calc originated the 3-D spreadsheet concept,
and SuperCalc 5 and CubeCalc also incorporated it.
1-2-3 Release 3 offered features that users wanted — features that ultimately became standard
fare: multilayered worksheets, the capability to work with multiple files simultaneously, file
linking, improved graphics, and direct access to external database files. But it still lacked an
important feature that users were begging for: a way to produce high-quality printed output.
Release 3 began life with a reduced market potential because it required an 80286-based PC and
a minimum of 1MB of RAM — fairly hefty requirements in 1989. But Lotus had an ace up its
corporate sleeve. Concurrent with the shipping of Release 3, the company surprised nearly everyone
by announcing an upgrade of Release 2.01. (The product materialized a few months later as 1-2-3
Release 2.2.) Release 3 was not a replacement for Release 2, as most analysts had expected.
Rather, Lotus made the brilliant move of splitting the spreadsheet market into two segments:
those with high-end hardware and those with more mundane equipment.