Lotus 1-2-3 For IBM PCjr
Donald B. Trivette
System requirements: Enhanced Model IBM PCjr. Printer and memory expansion optional.
A quick quiz: What's the bestselling computer program of all time?
I don't know either (where is the Guinness Book of World Records when you need it?), but surely a top contender would be Lotus Development Corporation's Lotus 1-2-3. This program has been leading several popular best-seller lists for two years.
There are several reasons for 1-2-3's popularity, but chief among them is that 1-2-3 is a spreadsheet program, and spreadsheet programs are the darlings of business computing, especially on IBM PCs. Nowadays it seems almost un-American to have a personal computer on your desk without a copy of a spreadsheet program. And 1-2-3 has become the standard by which other spreadsheet programs are measured. Indeed, it's one of the standards by which IBM PC compatibility is measured. You'll notice that the ads for many PC compatibles often stress that their machine runs 1-2-3.
Now spreadsheets are invading the home. (See this month's "IBM Personal Computing" column.) IBM and Lotus hope that you'll take the spreadsheet you are working on at the office on your PC and finish it at home on your PCjr. But don't bother taking the IBM PC version of the 1-2-3 program home. It won't run on a stock Junior. That version of 1-2-3 requires two disk drives and at least 192K of memory, which is one disk drive and 64K more than an Enhanced Model PCjr has to offer.
Lotus To The Rescue
Fortunately, Lotus has begun selling a new version of 1-2-3 that's especially designed for the PCjr. Announced in July 1984, the product finally became available in December. It comes on two ROM cartridges and a floppy disk. Either cartridge may be plugged into either of the PCjr's two cartridge slots. The disk contains the help file and utility programs. Although the disk must be inserted in the drive when 1-2-3 is started, you can replace it with your work disk afterward.
Here's the first question an experienced 1-2-3 user will probably ask: Is the PCjr version the same as the PC version? The answer is yes. The manual for the PCjr version is identical, page for page, to the one for the PC-with the following exceptions. Several names have been added to the credits on the title page; and the "Getting Started" section on pages i through xi describes how to install 1-2-3 on the PCjr. Those are the only differences.
The second likely question: How much room is available for a spreadsheet on a 128K IBM PCjr? The answer is 39,500 bytes. Not a lot. That can be increased to 45,700 if you bypass the Lotus Access System (File Manager, PrintGraph, Translate, etc.) and run 1-2-3 directly from the Disk Operating System. That's still not much for those accustomed to having 300,000 bytes available for their work, but it is sufficient for many applications.
With 45,700 bytes, for instance, you can create a spreadsheet 26 columns across (A-Z) and 100 rows deep containing labels, numbers, and formulas. That's plenty of room for domestic applications, and it accommodates most small business needs.
More Features=Less Memory
Another way to evaluate 1-2-3's workspace is to compare it with some competitors. VisiCalc, another popular spreadsheet program, leaves you with 71,600 bytes available for work, and MultiPlan, Microsoft's entry, has 55,500 bytes available. (All of these comparisons are on a 128K PCjr.) It's a tradeoff: The more sophisticated the program, the less space is left for your data.
Of course, if your spreadsheets need to grow beyond 45,000 bytes, you can expand the PCjr's memory all the way up to 512K RAM.
Another important question is calculating speed. Lotus 1-2-3 doesn't run particularly fast even on a PC, and the PCjr is a slower machine. The PCjr version took several seconds to recalculate a test spreadsheet of 45,000 bytes. Presumably, a spreadsheet of several hundred thousand bytes would take noticeably longer on the PCjr than on the PC, but for anything that will fit in 45,000 bytes, the recalculating time is reasonable.
Lotus 1-2-3 is not an inexpensive program-it costs $495.00 retail. But it's available from some discounters for as little as $319.95. A salesperson at one such outlet said the PCjr version of 1-2-3 is selling very well. If true, it looks like Lotus is going to remain on the bestseller's list for a long time to come.
Lotus Development Corporation
161 1st Street
Cambridge, MA 02142