Unusual copies of Lotus 1-2-3 2.01?

edited August 2020 in Software
So I've been restoring some old backups I picked up from eBay and I ended up with two copies of Lotus 1-2-3 on back-up medium. What's unusual is the copy protection appears to be missing. Both copies load up without a System Disk. One has an unusual(?) serial number starting with P, and the other is missing one entirely.

From the timestamp on the backups, the first one (w/ the serial) is from late 1986, the second one is dated from 1985, although it still reports itself as "2.01 Copyright 1986". Possibly a developer release or an era-correct crack?!

The first one (with the serial) was in a BackIt 2.0 archive which I was able to restore. I used a supercard pro to image the original disks.
mcasadevall@absolution:/srv/retro/Archive/disk_dump/IMGs$ mdir -i LotusSecondDump_1.img 
Volume in drive : has no label
Directory for ::/

123 CMP 135142 1985-11-20 0:06
123 CNF 265 1985-11-20 0:07
123 COM 794 1985-11-20 0:07
123 DYN 11157 1985-11-20 0:04
123 EXE 7680 1985-11-20 0:07
123 HLP 114362 1985-11-20 0:07
123 SET 34249 1985-11-20 0:04
BLOCK1 FNT 5732 1985-11-20 0:04
BLOCK2 FNT 9273 1985-11-20 0:04
BOLD FNT 8624 1985-11-20 0:04
CHKLIST CPS 81 1994-04-27 20:53
11 files 327 359 bytes
29 696 bytes free
I haven't gone through and made sure there's no personal data on these yet, but I can post 123.EXE if anyone wants to take a look. I may have to dig deeper into this.


  • Lotus did sell a 2.01 "government edition", which we have on the site, that omits the copy protection due to government purchasing policies against copy protection at the time.

    They also later published a "value pack" update that removed the copy protection, in favor of just serialization.

    Now that I think of it, I don't precisely know when 2.01 was first released. Each repackaging seems to bump the dates. (Very common thing to do).

    Since the time stamps omit the "1:23am" and instead differ by a few seconds, my suspicion is someone did something to write to the files while their clock was set wrong.

    If it were a pre-release, information about where it came from would really be needed to be sure about it.
  • I did dig a bit deeper into this, 1-2-3 2.01 could be installed to a hard drive, and it wrote the System Disk to mark that it was installed. You could also uninstall it to regain the ability to install from the System Disk.

    Unfortunately, I can't tell if just copying the installed version would work; the copies of 2.01 are either flat dumps which aren't usable without an unprotect, or the one kyroflux dump is missing the System Disk, and only has the Backup Disk which can't be used to install.

    2.00 doesn't have the ability to install the Key Disk so it's very hard to say what is the intended behavior. The 1-2-3 Kyroflux dump from the site however has a copyright date of 1986, 1987 but still says its 2.01.

    The first copy (with the serial) was restored from a BackIt archive dated 1986, while the second was just a loose collection of files. Both have handwritten labels, and at least one of them looks like it was recycled disks.

    I found some personal info on other disks which suggests this might have been owned by a home user and the machine (which was likely a PC/AT) in question was possibly used a late as 1991.

    I'll take photos of the disks and more in-depth stuff tonight.
  • I just got a copy of 1-2-3 (v2.01 I think) for $1.99 on eBay. I need to get around to imaging it to see if it’s different than what is already out there. I think it’s “new” based on the description, but it was opened I’m hoping just so the seller could make sure it was complete.
  • I have a unmodified System disk of Lotus 1-2-3 R2.01

    You can refer this screenshot.


  • @ibmpc5150 that helps TBH, although you can also install via the INSTALL utility on disk 3, which I guess does the same thing. The question is, could you then backup all the installed 1-2-3 and move them to another machine or run it without the system disc?

    If so, that seems like some seriously lame copy protection but would explain this somewhat despite the weird serials. I mostly tried to install the vanilla disks due to the fact I wanted to see how it worked.
  • edited August 2020
    Here's the disks I dumped these from, as well as the "BackIt" utility disk that was in the package.

Sign In or Register to comment.