Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Chapter 1: Excel 2010: Where It Came From
Too little, too late
1-2-3 Release 2.2 wasn’t a panacea for spreadsheet buffs, but it was a significant improvement.
The most important Release 2.2 feature was Allways, an add-in that gave users the ability to churn
out attractive reports, complete with multiple typefaces, borders, and shading. In addition, users
could view the results on-screen in a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) manner. Allways
didn’t, however, let users issue any worksheet commands while they viewed and formatted their
work in WYSIWYG mode. Despite this rather severe limitation, many 1-2-3 users were overjoyed
with this new capability because they could finally produce near-typeset-quality output.
In May 1990, Microsoft released Windows 3.0. As you probably know, Windows changed the way
that people used personal computers. Apparently, the decision-makers at Lotus weren’t
convinced that Windows was a significant product, and the company was slow getting out of the
gate with its first Windows spreadsheet, 1-2-3 for Windows, which wasn’t introduced until late
1991. Worse, this product was, in short, a dud. It didn’t really capitalize on the Windows
environment and disappointed many users. It also disappointed at least one book author. My very first
book was titled PC World 1-2-3 For Windows Complete Handbook (Wiley). I think it sold fewer
than 1,000 copies.
Serious competition from Lotus never materialized. Consequently, Excel, which had already
established itself as the premier Windows spreadsheet, became the overwhelming Windows
spreadsheet market leader and has never left that position. Lotus came back with 1-2-3 Release 4
for Windows in June 1993, which was a vast improvement over the original. Release 5 for
Windows appeared in mid-1994.
Also in mid-1994, Lotus unveiled 1-2-3 Release 4.0 for DOS. Many analysts (including myself)
expected a product more compatible with the Windows product. But we were wrong; DOS
Release 4.0 was simply an upgraded version of Release 3.4. Because of the widespread
acceptance of Windows, that was the last DOS version of 1-2-3 to see the light of day.
Over the years, spreadsheets became less important to Lotus. In mid-1995, IBM purchased Lotus
Development Corporation. Additional versions of 1-2-3 became available, but it seems to be a
case of too little, too late. The current version is Release 9.8. Excel clearly dominates the
spreadsheet market, and 1-2-3 users are an increasingly rare breed.
The other significant player in the spreadsheet world is (or, I should say, was ) Borland
International. Borland started in spreadsheets in 1987 with a product called Quattro. Word has it
that the internal code name was Buddha because the program was intended to “assume the
Lotus position” in the market (that is, #1). Essentially a clone of 1-2-3, Quattro offered a few
additional features and an arguably better menu system at a much lower price. Importantly, users
could opt for a 1-2-3-like menu system that let them use familiar commands and also ensured
compatibility with 1-2-3 macros.
In the fall of 1989, Borland began shipping Quattro Pro, which was a more powerful product that
built upon the original Quattro and trumped 1-2-3 in just about every area. For example, the first
Quattro Pro let you work with multiple worksheets in movable and resizable windows — although