back to article Original killer PC spreadsheet Lotus 1-2-3 now runs on Linux natively

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 …

  1. DailyLlama

    Never mind 1-2-3

    Bring back Ami Pro! I loved that so much more than Word.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Never mind 1-2-3

      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...

      1. Clausewitz4.0 Bronze badge

        Re: Never mind 1-2-3

        Allow me to disagree, but a truly venerable printer was the Epson LX-300 :-)

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Never mind 1-2-3

          The Epson LX-300 is mere babe in arms. IBM's 1403 is a true grizzled veteran.

          1. ICL1900-G3

            Re: Never mind 1-2-3

            Especially the one with the power hood.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Never mind 1-2-3

          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 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 you're still making the parts!

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Never mind 1-2-3

            No past tense here ... my 1403 is still cranking out reams of paper when I need it to. Yes, under Linux. Or BSD, occasionally. I've got a working Xerox Daisywheel, too, but that was made in 1976 ... The 1403 is dated 1963.

            1. ICL1900-G3

              Re: Never mind 1-2-3

              Utter respect, sir. That was my very first printer - well, not mine of course. Running on a 360/30 under BOS.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Never mind 1-2-3

            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!!!

          3. rajivdx

            Re: Never mind 1-2-3

            Umm... Epson still has a support page for the LX-300 where you can buy consumables and download drivers for:


        3. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: Never mind 1-2-3

          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) :-)

        4. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

          Re: Never mind 1-2-3

          Ahhhh, the noises it made when printering out a porno picture...

          that's one sound which I'll never forget.

          Memories of happy days.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Never mind 1-2-3

            Ahhhh, the noises it made when printering out a porno picture...

            If you print out Japanese porn does it makes weird high-pitched squeals? A friend asks.

      2. Julian 8

        Re: Never mind 1-2-3

        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.

    2. Rafael #872397

      Re: Never mind 1-2-3

      Feh! ChiWriter FTW!

      And where's the "I remember old tech" icon?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Never mind 1-2-3

        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.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Never mind 1-2-3

      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.

    5. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Never mind 1-2-3

      I have a folder full of files written by Ami Pro for OS/2 and which are now, as far as I can tell, readable only with a hex editor.

  2. VoiceOfTruth


    -> The closest thing to compatibility between them was an ABI called the Intel Binary Compatibility Standard or iBCS

    FreeBSD still has this, in the form of brandelf. I needed to run some Linux binaries on FreeBSD a few years ago and this worked.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ABI

      Probably more compatible than running old Linux binaries on Linux, then?

    2. toejam++

      Re: ABI

      It was my understanding that 'brandelf' does nothing more than fiddle with the target ABI value in an ELF header. Meanwhile, iBCS was intended to complement POSIX, acting as an abstraction layer for various system calls not covered by existing standard libraries.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ABI

        *takes pipe out of mouth*


    3. CAPS LOCK

      Re: ABI

      iBCS2 made it possible to run Microsoft FoxPro Unix on FreeBSD. I still run the same system, but now use Harbour Compiler.

  3. elDog

    I expect I'll be scurrying down this rabbit hole...

    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.

  4. GlenP Silver badge

    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.

  5. John 104

    Word Star

    Nuff Said

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Word Star

      I liked SuperCalc and used it a lot - it worked best when I wrote an ISR for CP/M to get my VT100 running at 132 columns so I could create very large calculation sheets.

      1. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

        Re: Word Star

        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.

    2. steelpillow Silver badge

      Re: Word Star

      Originally came out on CP/M and was later converted for MS-DOS.

      I remember everybody running WordStar + SuperCalc, Lotus was something I read about in journals.

      I just poked away at LocoScript on my Amstrad, until second hand Win 98 pox boxes became a thing.

      1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: Word Star

        [Author here]

        > 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.

        1. M. T. Ness

          Re: Word Star

          WS for DOS was specially nice when run from a RAM disc on the DEC Rainbow.

          I wrote my thesis on the CP/M version, though. File plus .bak file on a single sided 386 k floppy. No room for wordiness. Printout on the DEC LA50. Low budget times for printers at the time.

    3. gryphon

      Re: Word Star

      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.

    4. NickHolland

      Re: Word Star

      ...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.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Word Star

        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.


        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Word Star

          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.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Word Star

            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.

            1. Warm Braw

              Re: Word Star

              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.

          2. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Word Star

            I just wrote AX25 when I meant RS232 because I was fishing around in my memory and they are both in there.

          3. ICL1900-G3

            Re: Word Star

            There was also an AX. 25 used in the airline industry, I believe.

      2. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: Word Star

        We detested WP 5. It was horrific... but it worked.

    5. WhereAmI?

      Re: Word Star

      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!!!

      1. Fading

        Re: Word Star

        CP/M Wordstar that tickles the grey matter. I had that running on my Amstrad 6128 back when I was at secondary school.

      2. DRue2514

        Re: Word Star

        LX-80 was a dot matrix. We had our printers in sound proof hoods.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and Freelance ...

    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.

  7. Sparkus


    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..........

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WordPerfect

      When it was released WordPerfect ran on both MSDOS and VMS which was a huge factor in the company I was working for back then.

    2. Joe Drunk

      Re: WordPerfect

      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.

      1. PhilipN Silver badge

        Re: WordPerfect

        Memory's creaking but I recall I think that you could switch to WYSIWYG mode on the screen, at least in 6.2.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: WordPerfect

          The PC’s memory also creaked when you did that.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: WordPerfect

            Early PCs creaked when you did much of anything.

            1. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

              Re: WordPerfect

              Windows 10 still creaks......

        2. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: WordPerfect

          Yes, WordPerfect 6.x could do that.

          Earlier versions just had "print review".

          Dog slow at the time, though. Fine on 21st century kit.

          This is one reason I preferred MS Word for DOS. It could show bold, underline and italics! And combinations! High tech stuff for the 1980s.

          1. TReko

            Re: WordPerfect

            ...and then there was Multi-scribe a WYSIWYG MacWrite clone that would run on an 8bit 128kB Apple 2e or 2c system back in the late 1980's

        3. TeeCee Gold badge

          Re: WordPerfect

          More usually WYSIABNQWYG[1] 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.

          [1] What you see is almost, but not quite, what you get.

      2. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: WordPerfect

        I was never a big WordPerfect fan either.

        But I am interested by your comment, because I always considered Q&A to be a database. However, it seems you're right...

  8. Andy Non Silver badge

    Lotus 1 2 3

    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.

    1. gryphon

      Re: Lotus 1 2 3

      The original AutoRoute disks worked like that as well if memory serves.

      All UK roads and the program on a 1.2MB floppy.

    2. David Hicklin Bronze badge

      Re: Lotus 1 2 3

      I think if you uninstalled it, the count was reset

      I also remember we had wordpefect 5.1 where the licence's were a shared resource on a LAN folder (Novell of course these days).

    3. Rtbcomp

      Re: Lotus 1 2 3

      I still use Lotus 1--2-3 under Windows 10 on a daily basis.

      The only thing that bothers me is that you can't scroll through a worksheet with the mouse wheel.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Lotus 1 2 3

        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.

      2. Jon W

        Re: Lotus 1 2 3

        I also use Lotus 123 on Windows 10 - have you tried it on Windows 11?

  9. karlkarl Silver badge

    I love this concept. Just shows, with enough effort, we can keep any software alive; no matter how much the industry wants us on their treadmill.

    I *think* this is a similar process to this:

  10. IceC0ld

    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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      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)

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Nice to see Coffsyrup is available on GitHub

      [ ]

      Perhaps we will see more ancient COFF-format application distributions converted to Linux.

  11. mark l 2 Silver badge

    "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.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Has he heard from IBM's lawyers yet? (Does IBM even still own Lotus 1-2-3?)

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      IBM flogged Lotus Software off to HCL so... yeah... they probably don't even know it exists.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Lotus was sold to HCL Technologies a few years back. Notes, and the Lotus trademark certainly moved across, not sure about 123.

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        The list of skus that IBM sold is here

        Smartsuite is on the list, so therefore IBM no longer owns Lotus 123.

        1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

          IBM no longer owns Lotus 123.

          Who knows, one of these days, IBM may sell the "IBM" name and licence it back.

        2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Lotus 1-2-3 for UNIX

          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.

          1. katrinab Silver badge

            Re: Lotus 1-2-3 for UNIX

            Possibly it was deleted as a product before IBM bought Lotus, and therefore never got an IBM part number?

            1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

              Re: Lotus 1-2-3 for UNIX

              No. It was after the IBM buyout of Lotus.

          2. katrinab Silver badge

            Re: Lotus 1-2-3 for UNIX

            by the way "ORG 1.1 & 123/W 4.01 RSVP"

            is a Windows version.

            ORG 1.1 is Lotus Organiser 1.1

            123/W is Lotus 123 for Windows, and it is version 4.01

            RSPV is "Relationship Suggested Volume Pricing".

  13. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Don't forget As-Easy-As...

    ...which was released for free a few years ago:

    for DOS:

    and Windows:

    1. Ian 55

      Re: Don't forget As-Easy-As...

      VP-Planner 2 from Paperback Software was better...

  14. sarusa Silver badge

    Finally a decent word processor for linux! /jk

    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.

    1. aregross

      Re: Finally a decent word processor for linux! /jk

      Ding! I was gonna say the same thing!

  15. Kev99 Silver badge

    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.

  16. bpfh

    An alternative

    As MS still CBA to port anything office here...

  17. Frumious Bandersnatch


    I dunno if I'm in the right time zone, but ... NJStar, MultiEdit and ... Freemacs?

    everything's a bit hazy after DesqView...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I love these well researched articles!

  19. IvyKing


    Lotus 1-2-3 was even available for HP-UX on PA-RISC, but don't know about HP-UX running on 68040's.

  20. PhilipN Silver badge

    Nobody's mentioned LaTeX yet?

    Funnily I just loaded it onto my Mac last night. Sort of for fun - I was never an avid user and I am long past steep learning curves - but initial results impressive.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Nobody's mentioned LaTeX yet?

      I still use a for, of if to put maths up on web pages.

  21. jake Silver badge

    "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).

  22. jake Silver badge


    You've triggered my PTSD over the ELF to COFF changeover. I thought I had put that one to bed a decade or more ago. Now I'll probably have nightmares for weeks.

    1. jotheberlock

      Re: Thanks.

      COFF to ELF....

      (Windows, of course, still uses some of it, that's the COFF bit in PE/COFF

  23. rcxb Silver badge

    What about sc?

    Linux has had a text-mode spreadsheet forever... sc (spreadsheet calculator). Currently available in Fedora-36 repos.

    Wonder what Lotus 1-2-3 has that couldn't have been added to sc more easily...

    1. ereshkigal

      Re: What about analyrim

      Analyrim (on sourceforge) is another spreadsheet, runs in xterm windows. It was designed back in 1982 but the Linux source is freshly compiled, completely native mode from source. Nothing hidden at all.

  24. James Anderson

    Why stop there.

    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!

  25. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge
    Thumb Up

    So... where can we download 1-2-3 for Linux?

  26. Plest Silver badge

    Copy protection disk!

    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!

  27. Ian 55

    Can someone get the Unix version of Borland's Sprint?

    Be good to have that - the DOS version was the best, most flexible, word processor I ever used.

  28. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

    Is simpler really better?

    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?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Is simpler really better?

      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.

  29. plrndl

    Not Perfect

    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.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Not Perfect

      Fortunately you could (can) tell WordPerfect to emulate the WordStar keystrokes, so that argument never held any water.

      Incidentally, you can easily tell vi and EMACS to emulate WordStar or WordPerfect, if you like.

  30. Phrontis

    Bring back Quattro Pro

    I'd really like Quattro Pro back. It used to be so much better than 123 and Excel in many respects. Graphing in particular. I know Corel did it for a while but it no longer appears on their website.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Bring back Quattro Pro

      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.

  31. ereshkigal


    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.

  32. Rtbcomp

    Come Back 1-2-3 All is Forgiven

    I moved off Lotus 1-2-3 when I took a subscription out on Microsoft 365 and started using Excel. I ditched that when I bought a Chromebook and I now use gSheets. Next step is to ditch gsheets and start using 1-2-3 again under Windows,

    I was interested in the idea of 1-2-3 being available to run under Linux, maybe I'll give that a try.

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