Home » Ch 10 - decision support with spreadsheet software » So why did Lotus 1-2-3 lose against Microsoft Excel?

So why did Lotus 1-2-3 lose against Microsoft Excel?

Image Credit: Andrew Mason/Flickr

Image Credit: Andrew Mason/Flickr

In the textbook, we remark the following on Lotus Notes:

Especially Lotus 1-2-3 marked another quantum leap for electronic spreadsheet programmes, as it introduced now well-known tools like naming cells, ranges, macros, charting, plotting and database operations. Throughout the 1980s, Lotus 1-2-3 dominated office computers as the most widespread and most functional electronic spreadsheet programme.

So why did Lotus 1-2-3 not persevere? Not many of us can remember having seen Lotus Notes 123, let alone having used it at one point.

In the 1980s, Lotus 1-2-3 was quite the “killer app” – it dominated office computers worldwide, and was the quasi-standard of spreadsheet applications. At this point, spreadsheet applications were still mostly commandline-based, so you would not really need a mouse. In addition, the demand for a lot of functionalities was not that high, but when Excel came along, Lotus 1-2-3 was an already bloated and outdated piece of software. Its developers missed the sign of the times, and Excel took the market by storm. As more and more complicated calculations were needed, especially in the finance industry, Lotus 1-2-3 missed out and Excel took over. Within a few years, Excel became the dominating force in spreadsheets, and has been ever since.


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