Someone recently mentioned their love for (and continued use of) Lotus Agenda. My ears perked up because Agenda was one of those apps so completely loved by the people using it that they’ve been whining about its demise for nearly 20 years. Curious, I thought I’d see if it was still possible to run Agenda, on my Mac, and was surprised to learn that it’s not only possible, but relatively easy to do.

The key is to run it using DOSBox. I know, DOSBox is geared mostly toward running games so there’s no printing, etc. but it’s small, easy to set up and so far works fine. I copied a pre-installed version of Agenda (downloaded here) to a local folder. Then, after launching DOSBox, I mount the directory like this…

mount c /Users/jbaty/Dropbox/Agenda

Once that was done it was simply a matter of running the file from within DOSBox to install, then typing “agenda”. I’ve been playing with it for hours now and it’s easy to see why so many people loved it. It reminds me a little of Tinderbox in that you can put stuff in right away and then organize it later.

Lotus Agenda Welcome Screen

I’m going to try using Agenda for a couple of weeks as my primary planner, just to see how it feels in real life.

James Fallows wrote in the Atlantic

I still find Agenda indispensable when I want to organize data for a writing project. Like the 1964 Mustang, it has been replaced but not improved upon

Mitch Kapor, Agenda’s original author, said something similar

It’s like owning an antique car. You enter into a different world when you use it.

The antique car comparison feels about right. I’m not expecting to run my life in Agenda, but playing with old software like this is fun for me. If you’d like to try it too, Bob Newell maintains a pretty great list of resources and links that I found useful. Start there.