Featured image: Top 6 Moments in IBM Notes and Domino History


IBM Notes and Domino has been a driving force in the computer-world for many decades now, and with good reason. The program and its concept have been around longer than personal computers have been commercialized, and it has stood the test of time by impacting and being impacted by the changes and developments in the computer industry. Below are the highlights of this software’s rich history.   


The Beginning

In 1973, the Computer-based Education Research Laboratory (or the CERL) from the University of Illinois released a program called the PLATO Notes. This rudimentary beginning was intended for one purpose at the time, which was to allow users to share secure communication. Three years later, PLATO Group Notes was released. This expansion included a plethora of new features, such as the ability to run multiplayer games, organize private notes by subject, and read any of the notes and included responses that had been written past a specific date. As the pioneer of this kind of shared information product, it found much success after the IBM personal computer was released in the early 1980s. Ray Ozzie, one of the developers of PLATO notes, began working on his own to create a similar Notes product that was both more cost effective and PC compatible. The Lotus Development Corporation funded Ozzie’s work, and the early stages of Lotus Notes and Domino were put into place. 


Development and First Release

Ozzie and his team of developers set out to create a product that was similar to PLATO Notes, with an inclusion of significantly more features. The initial hopes for these added features included group discussions online, phone books, document databases, and email. There were many roadblocks in the way of achieving this vision, such as rudimentary networking capabilities and PC systems that were only in infancy. This led to many inventions, which were required to create the desired product with the technology on hand. It took a total of three years to develop the product, after which Lotus bought rights to the initial program in 1987 and sold 10,000 copies to Price Waterhouse after a demo of the product before it was ever released. In 1989, the first shipment of the Lotus Notes software was sent, and the program began its journey toward changing the face of business. Release 1.0 came with a few applications that were ready to be utilized, but the main idea of the software was to give consumers the ability to build and customize their own applications that would tailor their program to the Lotus Notes client needs. Many features of the initial product were considered utterly revolutionary and far advanced for that time in technology, such as encryption and security, an email system, and the ability to add new users with great ease. In one year alone, 35,000 copies of the software were sold, and the revolution of group communication and collaboration via computer was born.


The Beginning of Web Integration

At the beginning of 1996, Lotus released the 4.0 version of Notes, and with the update came many changes. One year before, InterNotes News was released, which was the initial drive toward integration of the software and the Internet. This release, however, was the beginning of what would become an inseparable bond between the two. Pages from the web could be read in Lotus Notes, and pages could even be created in the program and later published to the web (with considerable delay and an add-on product, named the InterNotes Web Publisher). Bug fixes and staggered releases were also introduced at this time, and the cost of the product was cut in half. Both of these changes were put in place to appeal to a wider audience and to keep up with the competition that had started to pose a threat to the software. With the intermittent release of the 4.5 came a new name, Domino 4.5, Powered by Notes. This update provided the ability to merge the networking of the Internet with the development capabilities of Lotus Notes. 


Release 5.0

By the turn of the century, this IBM Notes and Domino product was more integrated than ever before, with the goal to become increasingly faster, better, and cheaper with every step. The 5.0 release included the Lotus Domino Administrator, which gave way to many improvements for the Domino server, such as a larger base of web applications, improvement to databases, and Internet communication through messaging and access to directories. This release also gave users the ability to easily access both public and personal information through a browser-type and consistent interface, server independence, and support for Internet messaging. The whole goal of this release was to make the client easier and more intuitive in its use. 


Lotus Notes and Domino 8 

In August of 2007, Lotus Notes and Domino 8, was made available for purchase. The Lotus Notes 8 client software can be integrated with Eclipse plug-ins as the update was based on framework for Eclipse. A search center feature was added to allow users to find any files or applications within Notes itself, the Internet, or their desktop. Additionally, Domino 8 solutions capabilities included easy integration of old and new data and solutions into applications. In 2002, IBM sought to create a standards-based way of computing, and Lotus Notes and Domino 8 was the completion of that process. Composite applications were made available, as well as user interface and computing that is activity-centric. 


IBM Notes and Domino 9

IBM announced IBM Notes and Domino 9 in October of 2013, making it the latest release. The primary goal of this version was to seamlessly weave social and business platforms together in order to better gather and share information. IBM Notes and Domino 9 is billed as the complete solution, allowing users to work from anywhere and at anytime with the people and information they need just a few clicks away. This version is also equipped with enhancements from IBM Notes Traveler V9.0.0.1 and additional support for Domino. 


From the original idea of groupware with PLATO Notes, to the newest release of Notes and Domino, this software and developing program has not only seen many improvements and changes that were customer-driven, but has also driven the progress of computer technology itself. As problems arose, developers behind the software found ways to invent solutions to those problems. As competition snuck up on the product, innovations were made to make the software better, faster, and cheaper. The true beginning of group collaboration and communication has been a pioneer in the business world for nearly three decades, and continues to be known as the go-to software in business communication and application development. 


Do you need to boost the security of your IBM Domino environment? DominoProtect prevents unauthorised changes in real time and ensures regulatory compliance. 


 Learn more about DominoProtect



Back to all news
Open newsletter modal