Software spotlight: The ports of Lotus 1-2-3

edited February 2017 in Software Spotlights
Lotus 1-2-3 was the killer spreadsheet application of the 1980s. It conquered the earlier VisiCalc and continued dominance in until Microsoft Excel.

Winworld has early versions of Lotus 1-2-3 in the software Library:

With its built in graphics, and optimized display, 1-2-3 was often used to gauge IBM PC compatibility. What may not be as widely known are the number of system to which it was ported.

There were a number of early 8088/8086 machines that were not IBM PC compatible, but in which many businesses had already heavily invested money, or were in some way considered better than the IBM PC. Lotus released special versions of 1-2-3 for many of these machines.

What is so important about these ports? Well, the machines they are intended for will not run the standard IBM PC version, or version other than their specific port. Likewise these ports will not run on an IBM PC.

Recently, I stumbled across this late 1984 list that details all of the ports, as well as IBM PC clones that were "certified" for use with the IBM PC version.

The full list can be found here: ... LPNEWS.TXT
(Local copy here: lpnews.txt)

At present, Winworld only has the IBM PC and IBM PCJr versions. Ideally all of these should be located and archived here. This would be of great benefit to anyone who owns any of these vintage non-PC systems.

Most of these ports would need to be archived with a SuperCard Pro or Kryoflux since they are likely copy protected - and some disk formats are not readable in a PC. ROM based ports would need a hardware dumping tool.

To summarize, Lotus 1-2-3 was available on the following non IBM-PC compatible machines:

* Bytec Hyperion
* Compaq Portable and Compaq Plus
* Convergent Technologies NGEN Workstation
* DEC Rainbow 100 and 100+
* Grid Compass
* Hewlett Packard 110 Portable (ROM)
* Hewlett Packard 150
+ IBM PCjr 1-2-3 ROM Cartridge Version
* IBM PC, XT, Portable
* IBM 3270-PC
* Tandy Model 2000
* Texas Instruments Professional
* Victor 9000
* Wang Professional
* Zenith Z-100
* Tandy 1000 (announced)

And the IBM PC version of Lotus 1-2-3 is "certified" on the following IBM PC clones:
* AT&T PC 6300
* Columbia MPC
* Compaq Deskpro
* Data General/One (Requires 3 1/2-inch version)
* Eagle PC-2
* Eagle Turbo XL
* IBM PCjr with Installation Kit
* Mindset PC
+ Sanyo MBC555 with MBC Video Card
* Sperry PC
+ Tandy 1200
* Televideo Tele-PC
* Zenith Z-150

Interestingly, they do not mention the Eagle 1600 - The second IBM PC clone after the Columbia Data Product MPC/1600, that preceded the more compatible "Eagle PC".

Additionally, they list upcoming ports of their Lotus Symphony suite for:

* DEC Rainbow 100 (announced)
* Tandy 2000 (announced)

And list machines "certified" with the IBM PC Lotus Symphony suite:
* AT&T PC 6300
* Columbia MPC
* Compaq Portable and Compaq Plus
* Compaq Deskpro
* Eagle PC-2
* Eagle Turbo XL
* Sperry PC
+ Tandy 1200
* Zenith Z-150

The full list, linked to above, also includes numerous details about the system and configuration requirements for each system.

There have been a few of these ports on eBay, but each time they sold for quite a bit:
Lotus 1-2-3 for the DEC Rainbow:

Lotus 1-2-3 for the Texas Instruments Professional Computer

Lotus 1-2-3 for the Zenith Z-100 (NOT the Z-100 PC)

Wang Professional Computer:
It is kind of hard to see, but the version is identified on the disk labels and on the manual spine.

On a side note, I have also recently discovered that there were multiple IBM "1.0A*" releases with different copy protection schemes.

Known 1.x IBM releases include: "1.0" (Winworld also needs this), "1.0A", and "1.0A*".

There are documented unprotects for each of these. However the newly posted dump of version "1.0A*" differs from the documented "1.0A*". So how many variants were there really?


  • Thanks for post the nice information of Lotus 1-2-3.

    I feel that it is very hard to get Lotus 1-2-3 (Untouched) disk.
    (Sealed package is very very expensive to buy and dump.)
  • And I'll just mention that untouched is important for 2.00 and 2.01. It is my understanding that these versions wrote back to the disk and altered the copy protected bits after installation/serialization.

    Later versions may not have been copy protected, but as I recall still use serialization that alters the disk.
  • I was very interested in the link you provided to the Lotus Product News from Late 1984. Of particular interest is that in the list of available ports is the Compaq Portable.

    I had purchased a Compaq Portable (256m with (2) 5.25 disk drives) in early 1984 from Computerland mainly because it was reputed to be 100% IBM compatible. I bought two programs for it at the same time that I used in my job:
    Lotus 1-2-3 (I believe v1.0a)
    PFS Write
    Both programs ran flawlessly.

    I do not remember the Lotus 1-2-3 being a Compaq Portable port. I thought it was a standard IBM verison.
    I seem to remember that Compaq used this as one of their major selling points, that you could use all standard IBM software.
    However, since the PC and software are long gone, I cannot be sure of the versions that I actually had.
  • I know a guy with a Convergent NGEN. I'll let you know if he can find 123 for it.
  • Hello: I have purchased sealed copy of "Version 2" found on eBay. I will dump via KryoFlux when arrives, I understand unmodified version dumped may be of interest to this forum.
  • Yes it is, please do! Thanks!
  • @elgibbons

    If you upload it, I'll appreciate your contribution.
  • Now I've got retail diskette of Lotus 1-2-3 R2 & R2.01.
    Of course I recovered (fixied) modified disk of R2 thanks to elgibbons.

    I'll upload R2.01 later.
  • I've tried to fix (recover) modified Lotus 1-2-3 R2.2, but it seems to be impossible.
    This program seems to use INIT.EXE to setup 123.EXE.
    INIT.EXE / INIT.RI was removed once user install (setup) 123.EXE
  • Thanks to elgibbons's help, Lotus 1-2-3 1A (untouched / unmodified) is dumped.

    Of course I have copied and modified disk of Lotus 1-2-3 1A.
    So I was waiting for a long time to fix the modified disk.
    At now, I can restore (recover) modofied disk by System files.
  • Haven't had a chance to look at that yet. Is that the same revision as 1A (no star) that is already on Winworld (but lacks a copy protected dump?)
  • >Haven't had a chance to look at that yet. Is that the same revision as 1A (no star) that is >already on Winworld (but lacks a copy protected dump?)

    It is star version with same time stamp.
    But the file content of 123.EXE is different each other though the file size is same.

    I've check uploaded Lotus 1-2-3 1A (star)
    I think already uploaded one on Winworld seems to be releasted after 1985.
    --> According to sector 450, FAT area is written as memory dumped sector and year stamp must be 1985.
  • I can recover (restore) Lotus 1-2-3 1.0A (no star : 06-07-1983) with copy protection and untouched status.
    1.0A (no star) works with copy protected track of 1.0A star.

    I'll work to recover is as untouched status soon.
    (I think it is not difficult to recover.)
  • I figured out that Lotus 1-2-3 R2.2 can't be recovered (restored) modified disk.
  • I succeeded to recover (restore) the modified Lotus 1-2-3 R2.2 System disk.

    Now System disk can be initialized again.

    I'll show the recover process or method on other thread later.

    P.S. Lotus 1-2-3 R2.2 has copy protection on Track 39 / 0 before user initializes.
    (The copy protected sector seems to be removed after initialization.)
  • I succeeded to recover (restore) the modified Lotus 1-2-3 R2.2 System disk.

    So in this case I was able to convert the modified tracks to KF RAW format using HxC tools:

    Track 0/0, 3/0, 39/0

    It seems that since the copy protected track (39/0) was not too complex as HxC tools was able to successfully convert from .TD0 to KF RAW.

    So now a KF stream of unmodified system disk may be written to fresh diskette.

    If WinWorld is interested I can upload KF stream of system disk. Of course, all other disks besides system disk can simply be an .IMA/.IMG sector image.
  • In this case I don't think we need a KF dump of a copy.

    It is good to have the information about how to make a disk that appears unused. It would still be a good idea to get a genuine KF dump of an untouched disk, because even though just removing the sector may work, the real deal may have extra junk of some kind stuck in there.
  • @elgibbons

    Nice work!

    I think Install Disk / System Disk is different from uploaded one on WinWorld.
    (Rest of them are identical.)
  • viewtopic.php?f=36&t=8165&p=144016#p144016

    I've got Lotus 1-2-3 R2.01 disks but System Disk was already modified (installed) by COPYHARD.COM.
    (VDF0203.VDF is also modified.)

    But I've got untouched System Disk copied from original media and fixed (recovered) it.

    Once user install Lotus 1-2-3 to HDD, Track 3/0, 5/0 are also modified.
    (Original untouched disk has no copy protection sector on Track 3/0 and 5/0, but 16/0)
  • Good news, we now have Lotus 1-2-3 1.0a for the IBM 3270 PC, TI Professional Computer, Tandy 1000, and a set of 1-2-3 1.0a drivers for the IBM PCJr.

    Also, a possible unprotect for the TI Professional computer version:

    In 123.exe, change bytes:
    1007: E8 to 90
    1008: C2 to 90
    1009: A6 to 90

    I have no way to test that, though.

    They can be downloaded here:
  • Interesting. I’ve got the cartridge version for PCjr (it also comes with some floppies with extras) but I recently picked up this “installation kit” but I’ve not opened it yet. I wonder if that’s these drivers you’ve mentioned.

  • Hmm, it might be the same driver disk.

    If I understand it correctly, the driver disk installs PCjr specific drivers on to an existing Lotus 1-2-3 system disk. Since this is the full Lotus 1-2-3, not the cart, it requires a PCJr that is upgraded to at least 256k RAM.

    Interestingly, this driver disk was in the same lot as the TI Professional Computer disks, which makes me wonder if it could be installed on those. (If the only real difference between the IBM PC version an the TI version is drivers, then that might just work)
  • And no 'allways'?
  • More good news. We have added Lotus 1-2-3 for the DEC Rainbow, and Wang Professional Computer.

    Of course, both are non-IBM PC hardware compatible computers, so one must have the actual hardware to run the software on.

    Also, as usual, the system disks are copy protected, and must be written with a Kryoflux, SuperCard Pro, or a similar flux-level writer.
  • FYI, Lotus 1-2-3 for UNIX System V is now on It was recovered from the archives of a Warez BBS, so sadly not an archival quality dump!
  • edited July 2023
    Lotus 123 did have that weird thing where it wrote the registration into the files. We used this extensively for spreadsheets of all sorts, but never hit the limit. I think I even used it under xp when I found it to pull up our old time card calculator spreadsheet and use it again.

    Fascinating there were so many different ports of it. It was very, very popular, but I had no idea it had this type of demand.

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