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Was this their first product in office suite?

Out of curiosity, why didn't IBM ever release office suite? They had such a strong hold on enterprise market and yet all they did was to buy lotus notes that too in mid nineties (quite late).

"Office" i.e. the compilation of products started in 1989 with Office for Windows (I still have the floppy disks here).

Word was actually first (in 1983). Excel came in on the Mac (!) first in 1985 and then Windows in 1987. The had a spreadsheet (MultiPlan) which arrived before that on DOS but it was rubbish and didn't make a dent in 1-2-3.

Microsoft had a very complicated history in the 1980s and 1990s.

I'm a little young to know for sure, but did IBM make any significant software (other than the OS) before the purchase of Lotus? At the time when Excel was announced they were still running OS/2 as a joint venture with Microsoft.

(Incidentally, IBM does now have an office suite. A quite nice version of OpenOffice: http://www-03.ibm.com/software/lotus/symphony/home.nsf/home)

They made DB2 in the early 80's. DB2 has always seemed like the quiet giant in the database world. They even have a free Express edition [1], but I never hear anyone talking about it.


Symphony project is terminated, I think they gave some of it to Apache but I can't find the source anymore.

At least some of their hesitation was because they were selling very expensive systems like Displaywriter and DataMaster [1] to word-intensive corporations and didn't want to cannibalize that revenue. For example, most big law firms still had typing pools in the mid-1980s and those were driven by Wang and IBM word processors, not PCs.

The office suite concept was still a hard sell in the late 1980s and early 1990s; most were seen as a mediocre collection with a star product. Before Windows, people were much less concerned about a common UI and more interested in getting the best-of-breed (or at least the market favorite) in each category. So that led to Lotus 1-2-3 for spreadsheet, Wordperfect for word processing, Harvard Business for presentations, and DBase for databases. None of those came from the same company!

IBM had products in several of these categories but they were not market leaders. By the time IBM got serious about an office suite, there were already three strong options available (Microsoft, Borland/Lotus, and WordPerfect). Then Windows 95/Office 95 hit and it was all over.

[1] http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/pc/pc_8.html

Via Lotus, IBM did release an office suite. I had a version for OS/2. Ami Pro was actually an excellent word processor for its day. The layout features were vastly superior to the Word of the day IIRC.

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