Software Spotlight: Lotus 1-2-3g for OS/2
Since I have spent way to much time messing with this already, I thought I should spotlight this new addition: Lotus 1-2-3G 1.0 Beta Build 2 for IBM OS/2.
Hopefully everyone here knows of the famous DOS-based Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet program. While Microsoft was busy porting their products to Windows, Lotus was hard at work porting to OS/2. OS/2 was supposed to be the future - even Bill Gates himself stated that "OS/2 would be operating system of the 90s". Sometimes it makes me wonder if Microsoft's sudden direction switch from OS/2 to Windows was really intended to shake off competition.
This was in very early 1990. OS/2 was only still at 1.x and Windows 3.0 had not come out yet. Lotus already had issues making their products available for other platforms. One of these days I'll write something up about the infamous "Lotus Jazz". The actual 1-2-3 Macintosh version would not come out until 1991.
Lotus already had a character-based OS/2 version of Lotus 1-2-3 Release 3.0, so "1-2-3G" was their attempt at bringing 1-2-3 to the native Presentation Manager GUI.
The added version is a pre-release, but the really odd thing about this release is that it is COPY PROTECTED! I'm not familiar with any other copy protected OS/2 products.
The protection method is fairly simple. It uses mis-numbered duplicate sectors on the last track. But the catch is, I don't know of any emulators that can BOTH run OS/2 and support this kind of copy protection.
I tried 86Box, as it does run OS/2 and accepts ImageDisk and Teledisk formats, but it would always barf on the images. There might still be some way to coax the images in to some other format it accepts, but I could not find out how to do that off hand.
Since I wasn't sure how reliably that would work anyway, I loaded up an OS/2 1.3 image on real hardware. Surprisingly the Kryoflux created Lotus 1-2-3G disks installed OK. On emulators 1-2-3G would stop after the first page of the install complaining that the install disk was not original.
Install seems to write the user name and company name to the disk. Unlike some later protected Lotus versions the copy protection remains in place after installation.
The copy protection consists of some duplicate sectors that occupy the hidden file "LCD|||88.123". It may be that the program does not access the disk directly but just opens the file and checks to make sure the content is different each time. I can't tell for sure if it "protects" anything on the hard drive, but the protected disk is only required during installation. There was no user name already present, so it looks like this 1-2-3G pre-release copy was unused.
Now, here is another interesting issue: The "Lotus 1-2-3G 1.0" download that had already been on Winworld was actually Lotus FreeLance Graphics 1.0 for OS/2. I guess nobody ever checked that... because these disks are supposed to be COPY PROTECTED TOO!
The Freelance Graphics 1.0 for OS/2 disks were only dumped as raw sector image files, stripping it of its protected track. This means no one could have even tried to install it. The installer complains the install disk is not original.
However, on a hunch, I tried placing the Freelance Graphics install files on the protected 1-2-3G install disk - not replacing only the "LCD|||88.123" files. Somewhat surprisingly, it installed!
These two products are interrelated and share code. In fact they seem to both have the exact same Graphing capabilities. However, while 1-2-3 is a spreadsheet, Freelance Graphics is a presentation program similar to PowerPoint.
Please note that the this download has been moved to Freelance Graphics 1.0 for OS/2
It is quite interesting to see such an application running on early OS/2. Microsoft also ported Excel to OS/2 1.x, but not PowerPoint.
So we actually need a dump of the final Lotus 1-2-3G 1.0 release.
Lotus continued to support OS/2 for quite some time, and then was eventually bought out by IBM. IBM continued to include 1-2-3 in Smartsuite.
It appears the last Lotus 1-2-3 version for OS/2 was with Smartsuite for OS/2 Warp 4.
No emulators were harmed during the making of this review.