Lotus Organizer

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A Personal Information Manager for Microsoft Windows and OS/2 published by Lotus Development Corporation and later by IBM, sold primarily as a standalone product for Windows but exclusively as a part of the Lotus SmartSuite on OS/2. The program mimics a paper based "time manager" ("Personal organizer" in the USA) down to a tee, but in the 1980's they became the de-rigueur accessory for the modern businessman in the form of the Filofax and the American copy "Franklin Planner". Due to the simple and familiar user interface the Lotus Organizer became wildly successful with more than 40 million active installs and is still one of the most popular PIM's even though it is getting very difficult to get hold of new and has not seen any worthwhile updates in almost two decades.

Background and history

Originally released in around 1990 as The Organizer by a British company called Threadz, this sold reasonably well but was hampered by lukewarm reviews, fairly high price of UKP 199 for rather limited facilities in comparison with DOS based PIM's and the amateurish marketing and distribution done by the original company. A the same time Lotus was seeing falling sales of their Lotus Agenda PIM for DOS and user requests for a Windows version of the product, there was an internal Windows port of Agenda but it was so problematic that it was quietly shelved. The company decided to buy Threadz Organizer and market it as Lotus Organizer even if it a was functionally only a subset of the Agenda product, but a price drop, and a minor expansion of the facilities alongside a much more coherent marketing effort tuned the Lotus release of the product into an almost overnight sales success.

API & programming interface

Unlike most other PIM products the original Threadz Organizer did not have an API and Lotus only added very rudimentary programming and interaction facilities to the program through the years. It is also getting difficult to get hold of whatever technical documentation the company published.


  • Last OS/2 version is 1.7 released in 2001 and was included with Lotus Smartsuite 1.7 and later versions and is mixed Lotus Organizer v3/v4 codebase and uses ORG.3 files. Note that OS/2 and Windows version numbers are not in sync, 1.7x versions of the OS/2 product share a codebase with the v3/v4 version for MS Windows.
  • Last MS Windows 3.x - WinOS/2 version is v2 also released as a part of Lotus Smartsuite 4.5.
IBM also released a free version 2.12 for Windows 3.x users in 1999 that was year 2000 compatible.
  • Last MS Windows 32 bit versions is Lotus Organizer 6.1 released in 2003
  • The MS Windows Lotus Organizer Version 5.04 that is supplied with IBM Smartsuite 9.8.61 does in many cases work better on modern 32 and 64 bit Microsoft Windows operating systems such as Windows 10, and has seen more fixes than the later Organizer 6.1 version. See the Lotus SmartSuite page for general compatibility info.
  • Last known MacOS version is "Organizer 97 GS", no updates or patches were supplied for this version.

Known issues

  • The last known OS/2 version is created using a mixed v3/v4 codebase and uses OR3 files while the Windows versions shipped use the OR4, OR5 and OR6 file formats that cannot be read by the OS/2 version. The standalone version of Lotus Organizer v6 will open, read, write and save in the ORG.3 format however the Lotus SmartSuite 9.8.61 v5 version will open, read and write in ORG.3 format but not save in it, this means that you can share databases between the Smartsuite version of Organizer but the database will have to be created in the OS/2 version for that to work, make sure you create the shared database using "Windows charset", using the OS/2 charset may confuse the Windows version.
  • The standalone Windows version of Organizer v4/5/6.x may have to be installed by using Windows XP compatibility mode on Windows 7 and Windows Vista.
  • Older 4.x version of Organizer for Windows will work on 64 bit versions of Microsoft Windows and newer versions of windows but require that you run them in administrative mode since they perform file changes in the "program files" folder that are not recommended in newer versions of Windows for security reasons
  • IBM states that IBM and Lotus Smartsuite will not install and work on 64 bit Microsoft Windows operating systems, this is only half true, the use of 16 bit installer code means that the installer and some auxiliary programs supplied with the Lotus/IBM Smartsuite will not install or run. However the bulk of the Smartsuite is actually 32 bit code and will install and work on 64 bit systems if you get hold of a relatively recent IBM branded version which uses a 32 bit installer.

NLP Organiser for Smartsuite versions for OS/2 1.73 and Windows 9.8.61

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Closed source commercial software, currently only available as a part of an extended support contract.

Authors & publishers