On January 26, 1983, Lotus Development Corporation released Lotus 1-2-3, and history was made. The spreadsheet software was the “killer app” for the IBM PC. Lotus 1-2-3 allowed users to put information into an electronic spreadsheet with integrated charting, plotting, and database capabilities.
Mitch Kapor founded Lotus with Jonathan Sachs in 1982. Kapor had come from VisiCalc, a competitor, and Sachs had come from a company that created spreadsheet software for the Data General minicomputer. Together they architected and implemented the original version of 1-2-3 for the IBM PC which had been announced in August 1981. The original 1-2-3 code was written in assembly language for the IBM 808X 16-bit architecture. It was the first electronic spreadsheet to do something called “natural order of recalculation” which helped make it faster than other spreadsheet software.
Later in 1983, Lotus grew its number of employees and the company went public. The original business plan had called for $3 to $4 million in sales in 1983. Lotus actually made $53 million in sales that year. In 1984, Lotus tripled that and made over $150 million. It’s hard to explain what happens when a company has that much success and that much growth early in its history, but this Lotus corporate video does a good job of capturing the first five years of the company’s history.