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Eugen Tarnow


A Brief History of Notes and Domino

Eugen Tarnow  June 20 2011 04:30:35 AM
Notes and its success can be credited to four people, Ray Ozzie, Tim Halvorsen, Len Kawell and Mitch Kapor.  Notes has been around for so long that it actually predates the PC computer by almost a decade.  

In 1973, the CERL (Computer-based Education Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois) released the first Notes product called Plato Notes.  The only function of Plato Notes was to tag a bug report with a User ID to secure the file from being deleted.  

In 1976, Plato Notes along with a new release became known as Plato Group Notes.  Along with the original functionality, this release also included several different functions.  These functions allowed users to do things like create private Notes files organized by subject, create access lists, and read all Notes & responses from a specific date in addition to other functions.  This version of Notes stayed popular into the 1980’s.  

Plato Notes was starting to lose some of its popularity and became less cost effective once IBM introduced the PC and MS-DOS by Microsoft.  Because of this, Ray Ozzie began developing a PC based Notes product.  With limited funding available, soon Mitch Kapor would invest in Ray Ozzie’s work, and because of this, Lotus Notes was able to come to fruition.  Mitch’s involvement was critical to Ozzie’s vision becoming a reality.  
Lotus began developing the first release of Notes in 1985 by contracting Iris Associates, which was founded by Ozzie.  During this time, messaging software and collaboration was considered ahead of its time.  This was due in part because of the limitations in technology.  First was an issue of networking, which was very slow and underdeveloped compared to what it is today.  Secondly, the PC operation systems were in their infancy stage and therefore weren’t very advanced.  As time would progress, the limitations in Notes would become less of an issue.  

Customization and flexibility were the key features for Notes early on and have been a big part of its overall success.  It took a long time to develop Notes but because of this, the developers were able to add some key functionality that wasn’t in the original plans.  For example, the need to synchronize data between two locations arose, and thus, replication was created.  These types of added functionality made Lotus Notes a solid product with no real competition in the market, and then, in 1987, Lotus bought the rights to Notes.

Lotus Notes went on to release several more versions with more sophisticated functionality until over the years it has evolved to what it has become today.  The Internet and new advances in technology also played a vital part in the growth of Notes.  Notes went from being a product designed for small to medium size business to also include larger corporations.  

IBM purchased Lotus in July of 1995.  This was looked at as a positive, since the developers were concerned about increased competition in the market.  With a big brother like IBM helping to advance Notes both financially and technologically, Notes became an even bigger player in the marketplace.  

Lotus went on to release several more versions of Notes that would gain even more and more features and capabilities. In 1999, with the release of Notes 5.0, Notes and the Internet became almost inseparable.  With internet use skyrocketing during this time frame, Notes was ready for the present and the future.  

5.0 also had some influence on application developers.  With the introduction of Lotus Domino Designer, development became more productive.  With these tools, developers could make secure e-business applications faster and easier than before. It was around this time that the first module of ReduceMail Pro was released, ReduceMail Pro Delete, under its original name Deleter. That was soon followed by other products ReduceMail Pro Audit, a Lotus Notes search solution, and ReduceMail Pro Archive, Lotus Notes archiving solution.  Lotus also made 5.0 compatible with Windows NT, Window 95, Window 98 and several other operating systems.  This flexibility along with the use of the Internet made information easier to access whether it was personal or business.          

By October 2002, the need for businesses to be able to do things faster, easier, and more cost efficiently was as great as ever.  These trends were recognized by Lotus, and with the release of Notes 6.0 came performance enhancements and scalability to help lower costs.  Even the most difficult of applications became easier to use and to create.  Notes 6 also aimed for improved productivity with an enhanced scheduling and calendar functionality.  Managing time became much easier with Notes 6.0 with new mini-views, colors, and summary features to prioritize workflow. During this era, also came ReduceMail Pro Attach, an attachment consolidation solution for Lotus Notes that predated DAOS.  

The most significant improvements of Lotus Notes/Domino 7 in 2005 were in the server.  Server administration tools offered support for DB Databases, better integration with IBM Websphere Application Server, and Websphere Portal.  A Domino Domain Monitoring (DDM) feature allowed admins to view multiple servers across a domain or multiple domains.  The DDM provided 24/7 monitoring of all servers with fast troubleshooting reporting and recognition.  A new Activity Trends feature made workflow management among the servers easier.  Improvements were made to the Lotus Notes Smart Upgrade tool, and security included stronger keys for encryption.  Server performance was also greatly improved from its 6.5 predecessor. Other Notes improvements included archiving, an enhanced meeting view, and an autosave feature. ReduceMail Pro Journal, a Lotus Notes mail journaling solution, was also released around this time.  

Finally, Notes and Domino 8 were released in 2007.  The Notes client was based on the Eclipse framework to allow Eclipse code within Notes.  This allowed for Notes applications to become composite applications which allowed for quick access to business information in one view.  You could also extend the client program and allow for interface customization.  Notes 8 was built on an open-source Java based platform.  

The current Lotus Notes and Domino 8.5 came soon thereafter, introducing Domino Attachment and Object Storage (DAOS), and in the present run of that system came ReduceMail Pro’s latest module, ReduceMail Pro e-Discovery, a Lotus Notes search solution designed specifically to be used by lawyers. .

As you can see over the years Lotus Notes has adapted to changes in the industry and made significant improvements to the way we do business today.  Notes and Domino believe in a “more, better, faster” business model which has greatly contributed to the past and future success of Lotus Notes.

See the longer history of Notes and Domino from IBM itself.

Tags: lotus notes domino ibm history reducemail pro mail management solution email

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