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Mick Dagohoy
Mick Dagohoy

Lotus 1-2-3 Compatibility Issues and Solutions for Windows 10

Lotus 1-2-3: A Classic Spreadsheet Program

If you are a fan of vintage software or nostalgic about the early days of personal computing, you might have heard of Lotus 1-2-3. It was one of the first and most successful spreadsheet programs that revolutionized the business world in the 1980s. It was also one of the main reasons why people bought IBM PCs and their clones.

But what is Lotus 1-2-3 exactly and why was it so popular? How can you download and install it on your Windows 10 computer today? And what are the alternatives and benefits of using modern spreadsheet programs instead? In this article, we will answer these questions and more.

lotus 1-2-3 download windows 10

What is Lotus 1-2-3 and why was it popular?

Lotus 1-2-3 was a spreadsheet program developed by Lotus Software (later part of IBM) in 1983. It ran on DOS, Windows, OS/2, Mac OS, and other operating systems. It was named after its three main features: spreadsheet calculations, database functionality, and graphical charts. It allowed users to create, edit, and analyze data in various formats, such as tables, graphs, reports, and macros.

Lotus 1-2-3 was the first killer application of the IBM PC, meaning that it was so useful and powerful that it drove the sales of the hardware platform. It was also much faster, easier, and more versatile than its competitors, such as VisiCalc, Multiplan, and SuperCalc. It became the standard spreadsheet program throughout the 1980s and into the early 1990s, along with other office automation products like dBase and WordPerfect.

Features and functions of Lotus 1-2-3

Lotus 1-2-3 had many features and functions that made it a superior spreadsheet program at its time. Some of them were:

  • It supported up to 256 columns, 8,192 rows, and 32 sheets per workbook.

  • It had over 100 built-in functions for mathematical, statistical, financial, logical, date/time, text, database, and other operations.

  • It had a powerful macro language that allowed users to automate tasks, create custom functions, menus, dialogs, forms, etc.

  • It had a flexible database feature that allowed users to sort, filter, query, import, export, link, and merge data from various sources.

  • It had a graphical feature that allowed users to create charts, graphs, histograms, pie charts , and other types of visual representations of data.

  • It had a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) interface that allowed users to see how their spreadsheets would look like when printed.

  • It had a menu-driven and keyboard-driven interface that allowed users to access commands and functions easily and quickly.

  • It had a help system that provided context-sensitive and comprehensive information on how to use the program.

History and evolution of Lotus 1-2-3

Lotus 1-2-3 was created by a team of programmers led by Mitch Kapor, who was also the founder of Lotus Software. Kapor was inspired by VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet program for personal computers, but he wanted to create a more advanced and user-friendly product. He hired Jonathan Sachs, a former employee of VisiCalc's developer, Software Arts, to be the lead developer of Lotus 1-2-3. Sachs wrote most of the code in assembly language, which made the program very fast and efficient.

The first version of Lotus 1-2-3 was released in January 1983 and sold for $495. It was an instant success, selling over 100,000 copies in the first year and generating over $50 million in revenue. It soon became the best-selling software product in the world, surpassing VisiCalc and other competitors. It also helped IBM to dominate the PC market, as many customers bought IBM PCs or compatible machines just to run Lotus 1-2-3.

The rise and fall of Lotus 1-2-3

Lotus 1-2-3 continued to dominate the spreadsheet market throughout the 1980s, releasing several updates and new versions that added more features and functions. Some of the notable versions were:

  • Lotus 1-2-3 Release 2 (1985), which added support for expanded memory, international character sets, improved graphics, and more functions.

  • Lotus 1-2-3 Release 3 (1989), which added support for Microsoft Windows, OS/2, networked environments, data analysis tools, and more database features.

  • Lotus 1-2-3 Release 4 (1991), which added support for multiple windows, object linking and embedding (OLE), macro virus protection, and more graphical features.

  • Lotus 1-2-3 Release 5 (1994), which added support for Internet connectivity, multimedia, voice recognition, and more customization options.

However, Lotus 1-2-3 also faced increasing competition from other spreadsheet programs, especially Microsoft Excel, which was launched in 1985 as part of Microsoft Office. Excel offered many advantages over Lotus 1-2-3, such as a more intuitive user interface, better integration with other Microsoft products, more compatibility with different platforms, and more innovation and development from Microsoft. Excel gradually gained market share and surpassed Lotus 1-2-3 as the most popular spreadsheet program in the mid-1990s.

In addition, Lotus Software faced several challenges and changes in its corporate structure and strategy. In 1986, Kapor left the company after a dispute with the board of directors over the direction of the company. In 1995, IBM acquired Lotus Software for $3.5 billion, hoping to leverage its expertise in office productivity software. However, IBM failed to capitalize on its acquisition and did not invest enough resources or attention to Lotus 1-2-3. IBM also faced antitrust lawsuits from the US government and other competitors over its alleged unfair practices in bundling Lotus 1-2-3 with its hardware products.

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The legacy and impact of Lotus 1-2-3

Despite its decline and eventual discontinuation in 2014, Lotus 1-2-3 left a lasting legacy and impact on the software industry and the business world. Some of its contributions were:

  • It established the spreadsheet as a vital tool for business analysis, planning, forecasting, budgeting, accounting, and decision making.

  • It popularized the concept of a killer application that drives the demand for a hardware platform or an operating system.

  • It set the standards and conventions for spreadsheet design, functionality, and usability that are still followed by modern spreadsheet programs.

It influenced the development of other software products and technologies, such as databases, graphics, macros 1-2-3 on Windows 10. Some of them are:

Option 1: Copy the CD to the local drive and run as administrator. This is the simplest and easiest option, but it may not work for all versions of Lotus 1-2-3. You will need to have the original CD or a copy of the installation files of Lotus 1-2-3. You will also need to have a CD-ROM drive or a virtual CD-ROM drive on your Windows 10 computer. The steps are as follows:

  • Insert the CD or mount the virtual CD on your Windows 10 computer.

  • Copy the entire contents of the CD to a folder on your local drive, such as C:\Lotus123.

  • Right-click on the setup.exe file in the folder and select Properties.

  • Go to the Compatibility tab and check the box for Run this program in compatibility mode for. Then, select Windows XP (Service Pack 3) or another older version of Windows from the drop-down menu.

  • Also, check the box for Run this program as an administrator.

  • Click OK to save the changes.

  • Double-click on the setup.exe file to start the installation process. Follow the instructions on the screen to complete the installation.

  • Once installed, you can launch Lotus 1-2-3 from the Start menu or the desktop shortcut.

Option 2: Use a virtual machine or an emulator. This is a more reliable and flexible option, but it requires more technical skills and resources. You will need to have a virtual machine software, such as VirtualBox or VMware, or an emulator software, such as DOSBox or vDos, on your Windows 10 computer. You will also need to have an image file or a diskette of an older operating system, such as DOS or Windows 3.x, that can run Lotus 1-2-3. The steps are as follows:

  • Install and launch the virtual machine or emulator software on your Windows 10 computer.

  • Create a new virtual machine or emulator session and load the image file or diskette of the older operating system.

  • Configure the settings and preferences of the virtual machine or emulator, such as memory, disk space, display, sound, etc., according to your needs and preferences.

  • Insert the CD or mount the virtual CD of Lotus 1-2-3 on the virtual machine or emulator.

  • Run the setup.exe file from the CD and follow the instructions on the screen to complete the installation.

  • Once installed, you can launch Lotus 1-2-3 from within the virtual machine or emulator.

Option 3: Use an online archive or a third-party website. This is a convenient and quick option, but it may not be legal or safe. You will need to have an Internet connection and a web browser on your Windows 10 computer. You will also need to have a trusted and reputable online archive or a third-party website that offers Lotus 1-2-3 for download. The steps are as follows:

Open your web browser and go to the


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