Lotus 1-2-3 Day
annually on January 26th
Lotus 1-2-3 Day marks the anniversary of the day in 1983 when the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet program, which was a three-in-one (1-2-3) spreadsheet calculator, database manager, and graphics package, debuted as an application for the IBM PC. Today we take for granted that we can have a phone connected to the internet in our pocket, but there was a time in the early 1980s when spreadsheets were the wave of the future. Today we celebrate them, especially the Lotus 1-2-3.
The Lotus Development Corporation was formed by Mitch Kapor and Jonathan Sachs in 1982. Kapor had previously worked for VisiCalc, which became a competitor. In 1979, VisiCalc was released for use on the Apple II and became the first killer app: a piece of software that was so good that it made a whole computer system worth buying. VisiCalc automated basic calculations, saving office workers time as they no longer had to calculate by hand. It could also forecast budgets by easily tweaking numbers.
IBM PC came out in 1981, and after Lotus 1-2-3 was released, it became its killer app. It was written in assembly language, which was more difficult to write than other languages but allowed programs to run faster and use less memory. Lotus 1-2-3 had "special graphics routines" which wrote directly into a computer's video memory. This allowed the screen to update faster and made the app locked into the IBM hardware. The coding was specific to IBM, so it would be difficult to move it somewhere else.
The Lotus 1-2-3 was faster than VisiCalc (and other spreadsheets) and soon overtook it. PC clones of the 1980s made sure to say they were compatible with the IBM PC's, to highlight how they would work with apps like Lotus 1-2-3. The app was noteworthy at the time for having so many features, including charting, graphing, basic database functions, macros, and some word processing. Multiple apps on floppy discs were no longer needed. IBM took over the Lotus Development Corporation in 1995, and it became Lotus Software. The brand name was discontinued in 2013.
How to Observe
Celebrate the day by using spreadsheets! Obviously, the best way to celebrate is to dig out your old IBM PC and use Lotus 1-2-3. If you aren't able to use this spreadsheet, celebrate by using one of many popular spreadsheets used today, such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.