Friday, July 1, 2005

A walk back through Notes history


By David Gewirtz

As we get ready for the Notes/Domino 7 release this fall, it seems appropriate to take a walk back through memory lane to Notes and Domino past.

My personal exploration of Notes began in the early 1990s, when I recieved a call from The New York Times Director of Information Technology. In a very strange twist, she'd contacted Apple Computer looking for an interface design expert and they referred her to me. I'd just recently completed overseeing a major project for Apple and one of my areas of expertise was interface design.

At the time, The Times was using Notes 2.0 for managing some of their sales process, but they found the limitations of the user interface somewhat frustrating. For those of you who might not have been involved in Notes at that time, Figure A shows you something of what Notes 2.0 looked like. And yes, that's what Notes looked like back then in Windows 3.0.


Yes, that is Windows 3.0. (click for larger image)

I'd actually only been very tangentially aware of Notes. I'd read about it in some industry press, but I'd never seen it in action. I ran a small company and, at the time, Lotus wouldn't sell Notes to installations of less than 200 seats. It just wasn't something our company needed to use.

"It's been 10 years since IBM bought out Lotus!"

But my meetings with The Times people sparked my interest. What they were asking for then was a little before its time (it could be done with ease today), but Notes, even back in its 2.0 days, was very intriguing.

I did a little more research and found out that The Times wasn't the only impressive company relying on Notes. The Notes installation list read like a veritable Who's Who of major Fortune 500 companies.

It seemed very exciting and that research led me to prepare a book proposal for my agent. A few months later, I had a contract in hand to write Lotus Notes 3 Revealed! for Prima Publishing. It would be the very first business book on Lotus Notes and the second Notes-related book ever published.

But the history of Notes goes back much further than the early 1990s. In fact, Notes goes all the way back to the Plato Notes system of 1973, a time before there were servers and clients and even, really, a time before personal computers.

And that brings us to this month's DominoPower Site of the Month, a very interesting History of Notes Web page located on the IBM developerWorks site. Because the link is incredibly long in the typical Notes way, I've included it at the end of this article.