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The PC corner.

The PC Corner

MY COLUMN this quarter is going to be devoted to Lotus 1-2-3 topics, both the existing Release 2.01, and the new offerings -- Release 3 (just out) and Release 2.2 (scheduled for the third quarter of this year). In spite of the increased competition from new spreadsheets such as Microsoft's Excel and 1-2-3 clones such as VP Planner and Quattro, 1-2-3 remains the best-selling PC program in the industry. Frankly, if you were restricted to just one program on your personal computer, I would advise that you get 1-2-3. It remains my number one program for analytical computation and graphics.


I continue to be surprised by the number of business economists who have never tried using 1-2-3's regression analysis capability. Although a bit awk-ward to use and limited in its capabilities, it is fast, accurate, and can save you a lot of time if your data are already in 1-2-3 format and/or if you will be using the results of the regression in a spreadsheet.

First of all, let me deal with its limitations. You are restricted to sixteen independent variables, and data for both the independent and dependent variables must be stored as column vectors, i.e., one variable per column. This is not too much of a problem; if your data are stored in rows across the spreadsheet, you can use the range transpose function to convert to the column format. Somewhat more troublesome is the requirement that all independent variables must be in a contiguous block in the spreadsheet, which means a lot of moving of columns around if you are adding and/or deleting variables in the model. Another annoying restriction is in the diagnostic statistics; the only ones you get are a standard error of the estimate, an unadjusted R squared, and the standard error of each coefficient. Finally, you can forget about such bells and whistles as autoregressive correction, polynomial distributed lags, and two stage least squares.

What you do get is a very fast and accurate simple multiple regression capability. It can crunch through a sixteen variable, 500 observation regression in forty-eight seconds on my PS/2 Model 30-286, a 10 megaherz machine that lacks a floating point coprocessor. That speed is faster than just about any other package on the market. Another advantage is that the results of the regression are stored in a section of the spreadsheet, and the coefficients can be referred to by cell address. This greatly simplifies the construction of models in your spreadsheet. Also nice are the integrated graphics, which can be used to show an actual vs. fit time series graph, or, in the case of a single variable model, as XY scatter plot with the least squares fit superimposed. If you haven't used 1-2-3 regression capability, I suggest you try it -- you may end up liking it!


The March 1989 copy of Lotus Magazine contains an excellent article on setup strings that can be used to control spreadsheet printing. Following are a list of setup strings that work like a charm on my Epson LQ-500.

Function String Compressed Printing \015 Regular Printing \018 Elite (12 cpi) \027M Pica (10 cpi) \027P Expanded \027\065\024 Standard Spacing (6 lpu) \0272 Compressed Spacing (8 lpi) \0270 Letter Quality \027X1 Draft Quality \027X0 Emphasized \027E Cancel emphasized \027F Underlined \027-1 Cancel Underlined \027-0 Italic \0274 Cancel Italic \0275 Master Reset \027@

Although many of these functions can be controlled from the SelecType control panel on the Epson, I find it more convenient to store the information in the setup string with the spreadsheet. For instance, when I am printing in compressed mode (in order to get 132 columns of printing on an 8 1/2 inch wide page), I prefer to use the draft mode, as I think compressed print looks ridiculous in letter quality Roman type style (the boot-up default on my printer). Therefore, I store the setup string \015\027X0 in my spreadsheets that need to be printed in compressed type. Admittedly, I could select draft mode from the control panel, but I invariably forget to, and find myself having to cancel the print in order to reset the printer. It's a lot less headache to store the string with the spread-sheet.

The Lotus article also pointed out something that I has forgotten. It is possible to use printed control characters to control the printing of individual lines within your spreadsheet. Simply insert the setup string in the first column of the line preceding the line or lines you wish to change from the default string used for the entire spreadsheet. Precede the setup string with two split vertical bars (* *) -- the character that is the shift alternative on the reverse back-slash (\) key. Only the second bar will show, as 1-2-3 uses the first bar as a label indicator. Thus, to print a line of your spreadsheet in italics, place the following string in column A of the line preceding it -- **\0274 -- and place the following string in column A of the line following it -- **\0275. Unfortunately, this technique only works for an entire line; for instance, you cannot embed these control strings in the middle of a line.


As mentioned earlier, there are two new versions of 1-2-3: Release 3, which is now available, and Release 2.2, promised for the third quarter. Release 3 required a PC with an Intel 80286 or 80386 processor (IBM PC/AT or PS/2 Modle 30-286, 50, 60, 70, or 80 or the equivalent) and at least one megabyte of memory. Release 2.2 is designed to work on a regular PC with an Intel 8088 or 8086 chip, with at least 384K of memory (512K is recommended). Following is a summary of the new features of the two versions.

File Linking

Both versions allow you to link individual cells in one worksheet to individual cells in other worksheets. This avoids having to use the File Combine commands to get at other spreadsheets.

Improved Recalculation

Both versions incorporate minimal recalculation logic that is currently available only as a cumbersome add-in in Release 2.01. Therefore, only the cells that are affected by a change in the worksheet are recalculated. In addition, Release 3 has background recalculation, which lets you continue working while 1-2-3 recalculates a worksheet. You can also interrupt a recalculation, make a change in the worksheet, and restart.

Undo Command

Both versions now contain the Undo command, which lets you recover from your last command or operation. Apparently, the Release 2.2 version takes up a lot more memory with this option employed, so it must be turned off for larger spreadsheets.

Search and Replace

Both version now have Search and Replace functions, which allow you to search formula and label cells for text and perform individual or global replace operations.

New Macro Features

Both versions have a Macro Library Manager, which lets you store a collection of macros in a separate worksheet and retrieve any macro in the collection into almost any worksheet. An enhanced Step mode makes macro debugging easier. As you debug a macro, the current cell address and the contents of that cell appear at the bottom of the screen, and a cursor highlights the character of keyword being processed.

Features Unique to Release 3

Release 3 has several very interesting features not shared with Release 2.2, including the following:

1. Three-dimensional worksheets. This is just what the doctor ordered for budgeting and planning applications. Up to 256 different worksheets can be active at once, e.g., you can have a multiple period, multiple line profit and loss statement for up to 256 different profit centers and/or total-subtotal combinations. Mathematical operations and functions can be done across some or all of the worksheets.

2. Multiple files in memory. A new command, File Open, lets you load an additional file without overwriting the current file. This is particularly useful for comparing files and creating links among files.

3. Changes to graphics. The much-despised PrintGraph program has been eliminated. You can now print graphs right from 1-2-3. A new feature lets you view a graph alongside the current worksheet. New graph types include high-low-close and mixed bar-line graphs. Finally (and at long last), you can specify two Y axes on the same graph.

4. Database changes. Release 3's database sort capacity has been extended from 2 to 256 fields -- removing one of the biggest drawbacks to the old version. The biggest improvement, however, is the ability to access external databases directly from your worksheet. Once a connection is established, you can use the DataQuery commands to find and manipulate records in the external database. A special driver for dBase III is included with Release 3.

5. Printing enhancements. PostScript printers and proportionally spaced text are now supported. A built-in print buffer allows you to continue working in 1-2-3 while the program prints your spreadsheet.

6. Protected-mode technology. This enables Release 3 to use from one (required) up to sixteen megabytes of RAM (if available), without having to define this RAM as expanded memory. This breaks through the old 640K DOS restriction. With one megabyte of RAM, you can expect worksheet space of approximately 400K to 450K, depending on the number of device drivers installed. Current versions of DOS (3.1 and later) are supported. If you use OS/2 Extended Edition, Lotus recommends three megabytes of memory!

Compatibility Issues

Release 2.2 retains the .WK1 file format of Release 2.01, as well as the old add-in Manager. Release 3 can read .WK1 files but saves the spreadhsheet in a .WK3 format, which is incompatible with 2.01. As an option, files can be saved in .WK1 format, as long as they contain no functions unique to Release 3. Apparently, addins written for 2.01 will not work with Release 3, a real drawback for some users.


Since I have an 80286 machine with one megabyte of memory, I am going to go for Release 3. I bought my old version of 1-2-3 after September 6, 1988, and am eligible for a free upgrade to either 2.2 or 3. Otherwise, it would cost me $ 150 to upgrade from an older version of 1-2-3 (Release 1, 1A, 2 or 2.01). I will probably need to add 512K of RAM to my machine, as some of my spreadsheets are larger than 400K, and I have a 128K print spooler in extended memory I would like to continue using. I don't use any addins; thus, the lack of compatibility there is no drawback.

In summary, it looks like Lotus has taken a good product and made it better. I recently had occasion to try the sample version of Microsoft's Excel on the PC, and frankly I was not impressed. The graphics and windows are enough to knock your eyes out, but I hate using a mouse, and I've invested too much energy in learning 1-2-3. The improvements in Release 3 gives me many of Excel's best features, and I don't have to relearn a new system -- a definite plus at my age! I'd be interested in hearing your reactions to the new 1-2-3 announcements and to the new challengers such as Excel that are coming out. My address:

Micro-Economics, Ltd. 7728 W. Biltmore Dr. St. Louis, Mo. 63105 (314) 727-0545

*1 John H. Qualls is President, Micro-Economics, Ltd., St. Louis, MO.
COPYRIGHT 1989 The National Association for Business Economists
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:personal computer
Author:Qualls, John H.
Publication:Business Economics
Article Type:Product/Service Evaluation
Date:Oct 1, 1989
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