Personal Computer Museum, Canada's Videogame Museum

Lotus

Lotus
Lotus Development Corporation
55 Cambridge Parkway
Cambridge, MA 02142
USA
Year Founded:
Year Defunct:
1982
2000
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Lotus Software (called Lotus Development Corporation before its acquisition by IBM) is a software company with headquarters in Westford, Massachusetts. Lotus is most commonly known for the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet application, the first feature-heavy, user friendly, reliable and WYSIWYG-enabled product to become widely available in the early days of the IBM PC, when there was no Graphical user interface. Such a useful tool certainly helped to spread the adoption of the PC, both for administrative and scientific applications. Much later, in conjunction with Ray Ozzie's Iris Associates, Lotus also released a groupware and email system, Lotus Notes. IBM purchased the company in 1995 for $3.5 billion, primarily to acquire Lotus Notes and to establish a presence in the increasingly important client-server computing segment, which was rapidly making host-based products like IBM's OfficeVision obsolete.

Lotus was founded in 1982 by partners Mitch Kapor and Jonathan Sachs with backing from Ben Rosen. Lotus' first product was presentation software for the Apple II known as Lotus Executive Briefing System. Kapor founded Lotus after leaving his post as head of development at VisiCorp (the makers of the Visicalc spreadsheet) and selling all his rights to the VisiPlot and VisiTrend products to VisiCorp.

Shortly after Kapor left VisiCorp, he and Sachs produced an integrated spreadsheet and graphics program. Even though IBM and VisiCorp had a collaboration agreement whereby VisiCalc was being shipped simultaneously with the PC, Lotus had a clearly superior product. Lotus released Lotus 1-2-3 in January 1983. The name referred to the three ways the product could be used, as a spreadsheet, graphics package, and database manager. In fact, the latter two functions were less often used, nonetheless 1-2-3 was the most powerful spreadsheet program available. Sales were huge, turning Lotus into the largest independent software vendor in the world almost overnight. The business plan had called for $1 million in sales in the first year, but actual results were $54 million.

In 1982 Jim Manzi came to Lotus as a management consultant, and became an employee four months later. In October 1984 he was named President, and in April 1986 he was named as CEO, succeeding Kapor. In July of that same year he also became Chairman of the Board. Manzi would remain at the head of Lotus until 1995.