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Lotus 1-2-3 Vs Excel Vs Google Docs & Spreadsheets?

After their release in the early 80s, Microsoft Excel and Lotus 1-2-3 offered similar products that measured both in terms of quality and effectiveness. They each connect to different systems that ultimately define their place in the market for the next two decades. It looks like we may be starting another trend with the availability of free web hosting applications such as Google Docs & Spreadsheets and Zoho Office.

Lotus was not the only spreadsheet program in the early 80s but it was the most useful. After its release in 1983 Lotus was innovative in its use of consumer advertising on television. Because of its speed and its similarity to the VisiCalc model, including the A1 number and character cells, and the default structure, things looked good for Lotus for a few years. It was virtually bug free and improved the slower DOS screen input/output functions. While it is a spreadsheet, it also includes chart/graphics and integrated database operations. Hence, its name 1-2-3 which covers its three main capabilities.

The data in each given square is arranged in one or two columns in the square field within the data range. One can also justify the text within a certain line in paragraphs which allows it to act as a keyword generator. It includes user-friendly features such as pop-up menus with keyboard and one-key commands. Lotus’ most notable user feature was a context-sensitive help menu accessed by pressing the F1 key.

Version 2.0 introduced macros and plugins. This has resulted in outside vendors being able to sell packages of macros and plugins that range from complete word plugins to dedicated financial worksheets. Version 2.0 includes macros with syntax and commands as well as a series of variable statements that are similar in complexity to an advanced BASIC interpreter. Subsequent versions of Lotus 1-2-3 also supported multiple worksheets. Lotus also produced a 1-2-3 version for the HP 200LX, a palmtop released by Hewlett-Packard.

Excel was first released for Mac in 1985 and then for Windows in 1987. According to Lotus, Excel’s introduction offers all the capabilities of number crunching and drop-down menus and WYSIWYG formatting. These two features make Excel much easier to use. In 1988 Excel sold 1-2-3 and began to solidify its position as the leading PC software developer. Microsoft has proven to be an ambitious competitor by maintaining a great product and releasing new versions almost every two years. Excel also continues with its Mac releases. The current version is for Windows Excel 12 or Microsoft Office Excel 2007. The current version for Mac OS X is Microsoft Excel 2008.

In retrospect, it seems that in 1982 when Microsoft introduced its multiplan program, it was popular with CP/M systems but MS-DOS systems with Lotus 1 He liked 2-3. MS-DOS clearly dominated as the most popular operating system, thus, Lotus 1-2-3 dominated as the most popular spreadsheet program. In the late 80s Microsoft compiled Excel, a modern spreadsheet for its Windows graphical user interface. Lotus was based on IBM OS/2. Windows usage boomed with Windows 3.0 but Lotus had already lost its lead. Excel is becoming the industry leader for widespread computing software [http://www.thesoftwarespot.com]. IBM continues to sell 1-2-3 as part of its Lotus SmartSuite office suite.

The trends are changing again with the availability of free hosting applications such as Google Docs & Spreadsheets and Zoho Office. This certainly presents a challenge for Excel to maintain its prestigious position however; it will not be a clear comparison because online applications are a different product. They don’t imitate Excel and 1-2-3 but expand on them. They use the power of web collaboration, instant feedback, mashups, live data and contextual searches. Nevertheless it will be interesting to see the future maneuvers of Microsoft!

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