Here’s a computer detective story.
I’m not much of a football fan, but I did watch Clemson beat Alabama last night.
And they covered the personal interest story that the Clemson coach, Dabo Swinney, was a walk-on wide receiver at Alabama in 1989.
That rang a bell: I had had a student in principles when I was at Alabama (1989-1991) that they used to joke about, because he was like Rudy. This was pre-Hollywood, but even so it was an apocryphal story on college campuses — the little white kid who plugged away just to play college football.
So I checked out Swinney’s Wikipedia page, and he was a business major at Alabama when I was teaching mostly principles in their business school.
My computer hard drive is an archive. And my digital life is far more organized than my actual one.
So, it took me about 2 minutes to find grade spreadsheets from my time at Alabama.
The thing is, they were in WK1 format, from Lotus 1-2-3 Release 3.1. These files can no longer be opened by Excel.
I went looking on the internet, and found others who’d had similar problems. This thread was very helpful.
In it, I learned the Gnumeric can still open WK1 files. Gnumeric is an open source spreadsheet, primarily used on Linux systems. I went to their site and found out they’d discontinued Windows support.
For some reason I went back and kept reading that thread. Towards the end, someone noted that you can still download the last Windows version of Gnumeric (from 2011) on SourceForge.
I downloaded it, installed it, and started opening up Lotus spreadsheets from a generation ago.
From start to finish, the whole experience took about 20 minutes. Probably less than it took to write this post.
FWIW: the thread also notes that, if you can find it for download, OpenOfficeCalc will open WK1 files as well. I didn’t check this out.
No, I did not find William “Dabo” Swinney’s name in them. But I only found the grades for two classes, and recollect that I taught at least 7 sections over those two years.
But, I didn’t start using Lotus 1-2-3 for grades until the last semester I was at Alabama. I don’t remember what I did use before that (probably paper). But I do recall that I started using Lotus 1-2-3 because I had a TA, and that was all he knew how to use, so I let him go for it with the software he liked.