Never mind 1-2-3
Bring back Ami Pro! I loved that so much more than Word.
A long lost native Unix version of the killer PC spreadsheet has not only been rediscovered, but almost unbelievably, it's been updated to create a native Linux version. Lotus 1-2-3 was arguably the single application which made the IBM PC a success, and was launched nearly 40 years ago, on January 26, 1983. The Reg celebrated …
Ahh, that takes me back - I wrote my entire masters dissertation using Amipro. On an ageing (even by then) 486DX2.
Naturally my printer (the venerable Canon BJ-10ex) packed up the night it was due in, leading to a morning begging for mercy at the departmental secretary's office; my PTSD is kicking in about now...
Too bad you guys have to speak in past tense about your so called venerable printers...
HP Laserjet 4000 & 4050...the latter is probably the pinnacle of laser printing. I bought them both in late 1998 when the 4050 was brand new and the 4000 was on sale.
So venerable, I still run one and use it daily (a 4050, unfortunately my 4000 had to go many years ago because I moved into a flat and didn't have space, I like ot think it is still printing out documents somewhere, as there is no reason it can't be).
You can still buy toner cartridges and parts (hah! as if you need them!) for them 24ish years after their initial releases and I've found STL files for various parts so I could 3D print replacements if I need them.
The 4050 is built like a tank and has been through 10+ physical relocations in it's time with zero packaging.
I have only once had to take it apart to clean the mirrors etc because for about 3 years I ran it in a warehouse where there were filthy gas powered forklift trucks.
Even the original Jet Direct still works just fine. Although these days I keep it isolated in it's own special VLAN on it's own special 8 port switch to keep it safe and away from Digital Internet Bastards.
At this point the 4050 has done millions of prints, comprising of countless warehousing labels, mailshots, flyers, shipping docs etc...you cannot and will never beat the 4050.
Under Linux, it "just works"...I never have to install a third party driver for it, Linux recognises it straight away like an old friend.
My sons currently use it to print their homework on and my wife uses it to print off various things...this printer will still be in service long after I'm dead.
HP...for 3 glorious years you built the worlds greatest mono laser printer...bring it back. It still has a place in 2022...I know you can, because there are enough parts out there right now to assemble a complete unit from just spares...so you're still making the parts!
LaserJet 4200 - rescued from the scrap heap, along with a couple of spare fusers and a duplexer. Rarely print nowadays, but when I do - it's ready to print (after warming up a bit), don't have to worry about blocked inkjets!
Which reminds me - the toner cartridge is almost as large as an inkjet printer!!!
The LX-300 and LX-400... The horrors. I was feted and hated equally in my uni digs because I had an LX-400... it made an unholy racket when it was made to print in Windows TTF mode (hence the hate), but it certainly made assignments look a lot better (there was a queue out the door) :-)
I remember it was Display Write 4. If you wanted to do anything fancy, you saved to the RTF, headed over to the Compaq 386, loaded Ventura in GEM, read your RTF, made some changes and then in the old HP Laserjet 2686a, you put in the relevant font cartidge and printed.
LaserJet II's were brilliant when they came out.
At one point my old company had a few IBM Display Writers with their 8" floppies and took those along with a few old XT and AT's to a local youth club.
Pah! Rubbish. One of my ancient ancestors was a necromancer and using a family spell I summon my great great grandad who hand carves stone blocks for me to print on the heirloom press...and he's so badass that he insists that I summon him to a spot 50 miles away so he can walk 50 miles to my house in the snow just to whine at me about how much harder it was in his day. He even insists on me summoning his dad to tell him he's doing it wrong. They both tell me my kids are too skinny.
Because I'm a lazy worthless millennial I can't quite get the spell right so the summons aren't perfect...they fucking stink. The neighbours don't mind though, Dave from next door always shouts "off on holiday again?" when he detects the stench of two rotting zombies carving a QR code boarding pass for me.
As for Linux compatibility, they've never heard of it.
This post has been deleted by its author
Amí (note that acute accent ;-) ) was from Samna. Lotus bought it.
It was a great app in its time, but it's a Windows app.
This article is about software from the previous decade: DOS apps, not Windows ones.
I am sure it's fairly easy to run Amí and 1-2-3 for Windows under WINE, and then they're effectively "native". As in, no underlying VM or emulator or anything.
Fire up WSL2 on Windows 10 to run this Linux command version of Lotus 1-2-3.
Also agree with prior comment about AMI Pro. So many word processing packages back then worked mostly, and then crapped out on a big document just before you had to send it off to the customer.
Not sure why but I don't think I ever really used Lotus 1-2-3, I did install/support Lotus Symphony though for the business faculty at the local college. I seem to recall though that whilst it had the functions integrated each one, the spreadsheet, word processor, etc. was a cut down version.
Created some nifty macros for SuperCalc 4 and 5 back then.
With the DOS-based SC4/SC5 you can use muscle memory to get some tasks done quickly and easily without fuss.
I am pretty sure that SC4/SC5/Lotus123 with any user with well-trained muscle memory will be able to outperform any Excel user.
> Originally came out on CP/M and was later converted for MS-DOS.
Fun fact about WordStar.
They did indeed convert the app from CP/M to DOS, you're right.
But the codebase was a horrid mess. An external company wrote a better, native-MS-DOS clone called NewWord.
So MicroPro bought the company, threw out their own codebase and rebranded NewWord as WordStar 4.
1st year at Uni they spent ages teaching, i.e. instruction, us WordStar and we had all the key combinations off by heart and were very proficient.
Came back after summer to find they'd changed 95% of the PC's over to WordPerfect.
Training. Hmm, here's a few handy hint sheets that we found at the back of a photocopier, off you go.
...or WordPerfect 5.x
I was a huge WordStar fan from 1982 to probably 1988 when I retired my non-PC compatible and moved 99% to the PC world. WordStar used the DEL key for what was my most commonly used function ("Remove the character to the left of the cursor"), which the PC keyboard was kinda dedicated to being the backspace key. WS backspace just moved the cursor back a character, didn't remove my error. In short, WordStar on the PC just didn't work for me nearly as well as it did on the pre and non-PC systems.
I never got as good with WP as I was with WS, but wow, I could feel how powerful and efficient it could be.
Past job involved supporting a banking application on AIX that still had remnants of supporting WordPerfect on the application consoles.
WordStar on CP/M used an 8080 or Z80 computer with 8 inch floppy drive and no display. It talked to a “VDU” like a VT100 DEC compatible terminal over AX25. How I had to adapt quickly from my home micro experience into business personal computing. The computers had a “card cage” with separate boards for disk, comms and CPU slotting into edge connectors on the BUS board.
I feel my youth coming back.
AX25 confused me. I am well versed in serial terminals, and didn't recognize it. It appears to be an amateur radio variant of X.25, so I think that it's not the case.
As far as I am aware, DEC terminals mostly used RS-232, although it would not surprise me if there was a current-loop version sold sometime.
I think you may have been referring to the connector, but that would be a DB-25 connector, as that is what most VT100 and similar terminals had as their connector. DE-9 (what most people think as an RS-232 connector) only really became popular when it was adopted as the serial plug on PCs, and I think that was so they could fit it onto the backplate of an ISA card with a DB-25 for a parallel port.
It does appear that AX.25 ports may also have used DB-25 connectors, so that may be why you're confusing the two.
The DEC VT-50 (1974?) was optionally available with current loop (20mA). I have four or five squirreled away, just in case (I think two are still out on loan to the The Computer History Museum ... thanks for reminding me). Other early DEC terminals were also available with the current loop option, but I don't have a handy list, nor any physical examples.
There was a 20mA option for the VT-100, too, and it was a standard feature of the VT-220 [PDF] but not available, AFAIK, subsequently.
Loved it. Started with the CP/M version on a Caltext LSI/3 and was eventually forced onto DOS 3.3 on some form of a 286 IBM-PC clone. I wrote a lot of technical stuff on WordStar, including my first published book (don't ask- decades out of print and not even available from the dark corners of the internet). About the same time I tried migrating to MS Word 2.0 as this was now company standard. Didn't like it one bit - muscle-memory problems with WordStar commands :-D . Eventually moved full-time to Word 6.0 but still missed the simplicity of WordStar.
What I didn't miss was the horrific noise that came from the Epson LX-80 daisy wheel!!!
Lotus 1-2-3 was the reason my sandwich year saw me going from a department of 1 PC between 60, to 15 in a year. Nearly all to run 1-2-3.
Before then we needed a "Y" cable to the Sperry mainframe to drive a HP4540 plotter in a n hour.
After you could plot a graph in less time than it took to make a coffee.
had the additional benefit in that is was first to 'market' with USGov and Military accounts on a very easy buy it now deal tied to standard laptop and desktop procurement contracts. The business flow (profits, commissions) from that little piece of business let a friend of mine retire to Costa Rica at the age of 40 (in 1995).
He's still there running his tourist dive charter business..........
Despite all the advanced features of Wordperfect 5.1 for DOS, the prevalent word processor of that era I was never a fan.
I needed at the time a WYSIWYG word processor and was introduced to Q&A by Symantec. It was nice to be able to see what your document would look like printed out as you typed (formatting, bold, underline, italics etc.) without having to go into a preview mode. Used it for many years during my university years with various dot matrix printers until I switched to Windows 95/Word 95.
More usually WYSIABNQWYG mode, due to WordPerfect's legendarily ratty internal printer drivers. First rule of WordPerfect installation, buy a load of printers that are known to work well and bin everything that's already in place, even if the software insists it is supported.
 What you see is almost, but not quite, what you get.
I wrote lots of speadsheets using it back in the day. It was very popular with management for churning out quick reports. If memory serves correct they had some sort of clever licence trick with the 5 1/4" floppies. If you installed it on a PC it updated the master floppy knocking 1 off the total number of seats available. They'd also made the disk so it couldn't be copied to gain free licences.
Lotus never properly grasped the concept of the GUI, and so 1-2-3 had been pretty much EOLed by Excel when IBM bought it in the mid '90s ... which coincidentally was pretty much when people first started fiddling about with mousewheels. Lotus/IBM never bothered to include mousewheel capability, despite IBM selling Lotus products for nearly 20 years after the purchase.
Enough history ... The real reason I'm typing this is a bit of a heads-up ... I have seen various bits of utility software that purport to make the mousewheel functional with 1-2-3, but every single one of them have turned out to be malware. Be careful out there.
What Ormandy has managed to do is to build a tool to convert this ancient COFF-format object file into Linux's ELF format. He has called the tool coffsyrup
COFFSYRUP :o) - something tells me that this particular genius of the ancient software is a repressed copy writer, and once he saw COFF format, he went ALL IN
There was a CLI editor on the mainframe named 'ed'. Someone created a program that would use fancy features on the new terminals to allow full screen editing, named 'fsed'. That editor was missing quite a few features. I came along and cleaned it up and added those amazing features. Named it 'nufsed'.
If the code takes more than a little bit to write you have lots of rumination time to think of a good name. If the fantastic name comes to you first, the name will be the best part of the result (i.e. the application will be trash)
"In Ormandy's hunt for the LPL compiler, he asked SCiZE, who maintains a page dedicated to the long-gone bulletin-board "warez" scene. Not only did SCiZE have a copy of the long-lost Lotus toolkit, he also had a copy of something else thought lost to history: Lotus 1-2-3 for Unix™."
It goes to show that while piracy is bad, if it hadn't been for people cracking software and distributing on a BBS back in the day that software could have been lost forever.
This post has been deleted by its author
The list there is interesting.What they have listed there is the IBM product numbers for the saleable products that a customer could purchase or license.
On it are various versions of Smartsuite for Windows, NT and OS2, but I suspect that as Lotus 1-2-3 for UNIX was deleted as a product long ago, it does not appear on that list, and Smartsuite was never available on UNIX. So it might be worth speculating that IBM may not have sold the rights for Lotus 1-2-3 for UNIX. There is something called "Smartsuite OEM subscription", but I guess I'd have to dig into archived ULETs and PLETs (IBM keeps them seemingly forever) to work out what that was.
Ah, there is also "ORG 1.1 & 123/W 4.01 RSVP". I suppose this could be it.
Of course, a lot depends on the small(er) print in the contract, because it may contain terms like "preceding products", or "associated works", but the devil is in the detail.
There was actually a version of 1-2-3 available for AIX, sold as a product and with Level 1 support from the support centre I worked in, but pretty much nobody bought it in the UK (I don't think I kept a copy of the installable package). It was predominantly text based, and ran on a terminal or terminal window, but I'm pretty certain that when running in X-Windows, there was a documented way of graphing data in another window (none of the embedded graphics that we now expect in things like LibraOffice Calc or Excel).
But this was fairly standard for spreadsheets on UNIX. In the late '80s I used Access Technologies 20/20 and Uniplex, and they were all pretty much terminal based, with extensions for charts and graphs.
With 20/20 (the spreadsheet), I used the multiple terminal emulations of Falco terminals with a Tek. 4014 emulation to be able to draw graphs on serial terminals. It seemed clever for the time, but would appear crude by today's standards.
I see lots of people talking about old word processors here, but I knew a hell of a lot of people who just did their word processing in 1-2-3. And their notes. And their calendar...
Because when you have a very expensive and complicated hammer, you might as well hit everything with it.
I was partial to Quattro Pro 4. Tabs, cut & paste, and all those little things that mictosoft bragged abut in windows 1. And all under DOS.
And pfs:Professional Write did everything I needed for business documents. And if I needed graphics, it was over to pfs:First Publisher. Easier & better than Harvard Graphics in my opinion. Compared to the bloated and insecure mictosoft products these were much better. And cheaper.
"Microsoft offered its own version of Unix, called Xenix."
Xenix was not Microsoft's version of anything. Xenix was AT&T's bog-stock PDP11 UNIX Version 7 source, rebranded by Microsoft and offered to other companies "as is" to port to their hardware of choice. Microsoft was essentially a reseller of AT&T source code licenses. The reasoning behind this was because at the time, MaBell wasn't allowed to sell in the commercial sector for anti-trust reasons. MaBell's lawyers decided that jealously guarding the UNIX name was important, thus the name change by Microsoft. As a reseller, Microsoft was allowed to use it commercially as an internal OS for reasons (legal grey area).
A long time ago I was at a site where they used a mainframe (370/MVS/TSO) spreadsheet.
It was actually slightly better than 123!
Anyone remember that Lotus 1-2-3 DOS edition had copy protection? You had to install the key from the disk onto a HD, then before you wiped the HD you MUST revert the key back from the HD to the original floppy else you'd had no way to re-install it! The number of patches that came out to allow you to circumvent that at the time!
Maybe we need to settle this for once and for all.
Will simple software (DOS-based or CLI-based under Linux) be able to outperform their GUI (especially Windows) counterparts? Most especially with data entry, spreadsheet number crunching and so on.
Then, text formatting and drawing pretty pie graphs.
And other, daily tasks.
Then data recovery should the data file go a bit wonky (been there, done that with MS Word 2013).
About time that we make it an official test so that this can be finished and laid to rest for once and for all.
Anybody at The Register willing to arrange something like this?
Try it for yourself. I have.
Turns out I can create and print a document using Wordstar, or create and print a spreadsheet using Visicalc, or create a simple database using dBase (all running on DOS 3.3) MUCH faster than I can perform the exact same task(s) using anything that Redmond is currently pushing.
WordPerfect was popular with two finger typists. For real typists, WordStar was the only choice. Unfortunately, most IT decision makers (ie buyers) belong to the former category, and the latter category (who are mostly female, and did most of the actual typing work) had to suffer with an inferior tool.
Quattro Pro is still available from Corel, as part of their WordPerfect office suite. Standard edition $250, student edition $100. See:
Yes, you can get there through the corel website.
Personally, I'll stick to LibreOffice. Seems pragmatic, somehow.
For another 1980s vintage spreadsheet, natively running on Linux, go hunt up AnalyRIM over on Sourceforge. It is all there, uses terminal emulators in whatever size they are, so is not limited to 80x25. It is an odd beast, but has many features and runs fast. Its normal mode is kind of a command driven thing, very terse but functions well. IN principle it has 2 spreadsheets in any session: the "physical" sheet (normal spreadsheet) and the "display sheet" which is what is displayed and is a mapping to the physical sheet. Computation is normally done in the physical sheet but every cell on screen can be separately mapped anywhere on the physical sheet. Things like matrix equations and multidimensional goalseeking among other oddities are there. There is a built in database and commands exist to graph data with gnuplot, so that becomes the "built in graphing". Also every cell can have short programs in the command language, not just single expressions.