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Shadow Lord
May 14th, 2014, 10:41 AM
Sometimes old school is the best school:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5REM-3nWHg&feature=player_embedded

Stone
May 14th, 2014, 10:54 AM
I still use Professional Write v1.0 because I like it, it does everything I want, and it runs on every machine I own, have owned, or will possibly own and that includes machines with one only floppy drive and no HD.

vwestlife
May 14th, 2014, 11:53 AM
WordStar 4.0 was a great word processor, but unfortunately it came too late to keep WordPerfect from taking over the marketplace. Allegedly, the folks at MicroPro lost the source code to the original WordStar, forcing them to write a new version from scratch (WordStar 2000) which was slow and poorly received. Meanwhile some of the programmers split off from the company and released their own improved clone of the original WordStar, called NewStar. So, MicroPro's solution to this debacle was to buy the rights to the clone, and rebrand it as the "new" WordStar (4.0)! Later versions added pull-down menus and support for graphics, but couldn't keep up with WordPerfect.

Chuck(G)
May 14th, 2014, 11:54 AM
That "losing WordStar source" smells of an urban legend. MicroPro was selling WS 4 and WS2K at the same time. WS4 wasn't that different internally from WS 3.3--the patch area even follows the same layout. What WS4 wouldn't do was handle more advanced WP features. I suspected that WS4 for the PC was nothing more than machine-translated 8080-to-8086 assembly code with some tweaks. WS2K was hugely advanced over 4, but also was very different, which alienated existing customers.

You'll possibly remember that for years, the TRS-80 model 100 was viewed as the perfect journalist's traveling computer. Rugged, simple, runs on C cells. There used to be a real premium paid for used ones--I don't know if that's still the case.

Gene Roddenberry used WordStar on several different computers, to the best of my recollection.

barythrin
May 14th, 2014, 01:20 PM
C cells? Model 100 runs on standard AAs but yeah other than no backlight display it would probably make a great writing/journalist computer. I used to show folks at the VCF SW how one could have it with them and be in the field still, write your story/article then with an acoustic coupler and a quarter you could even have your story uploaded by the nearest payphone while everyone else was still driving to their desks. (Epson did use Sub-C batteries which may be what you're remembering)

We've seen a few authors come to this site with the same idea. Nice older or dedicated writing computer to keep distractions at bay (no tabbing over to the internet or hours of wasted time on a youtube spree). An ex-coworker/friend who now is a published author I offered him an old Apple writer or Alphasmart I found for cheap for that purpose although I don't think it was really the right choice but I think it did have a back light so he could write at the hotel and connect to a regular computer and upload the typing.

Sort of a side tangent but it would be interesting to see the comparison of workers today vs pre-internet. I remember at the state even in the 90s where most work was still being done via 3270 terminals/emulators to the mainframe and we had a serious discussion every so often on blocking internet access to our employees. The argument was it wasn't really necessary to do their jobs and tended to be more of a distraction. Given we used it more and more to look up problems we'd never encountered but I do think I used to memorize things better before the internet was so quickly available. Now it seems almost just as easy to forget and look it up again next time. Not a very productive habit although being general support also has the unrealistic expectation that I can memorize every operating system and application that any user, developer, or even operating system ends up finding or breaking.

Chuck(G)
May 14th, 2014, 03:00 PM
Yeah, probably wishful thinking on my part. (aside: Someone confronted me with a piece of gear that took "A" cells--not AA or AAA, but "A". I didn't even know that there was such a thing.)

I've never seen a Model 600, which was supposed to be the end of the line.

njroadfan
May 15th, 2014, 06:53 PM
I recall at least 2 machines coming in for repair into the computer store I worked at that were dedicated to WordStar use. People seeked us out because we worked on legacy hardware at the time. Most places wouldn't touch a XT in 1999!

SomeGuy
May 16th, 2014, 03:27 AM
What a world. The guy finds a solution that works for him, and everyone laughs at him for it.

barythrin
May 16th, 2014, 07:56 AM
Don't think any of of us are laughing :-) Maybe he'll join here at some point if he has a problem with his system.

Uniballer
May 16th, 2014, 08:07 AM
I would assume that the fact that the DOS box doesn't do email or web browsing merely reduces the possible distractions.

Mad-Mike
May 16th, 2014, 02:34 PM
Not sure why anyone is laughing at that guy? That's probably why he has a complete book and they don't.

Him - powers on PC, cd\ws40, ws40.exe ->Boom, "clickly clickity clickity"

Them - powers on PC, wait 45 minutes for it to dredge through all the Trojans, malware, spyware, viruses, about 15 minutes later, type in password (if any) 3-4 times nefore it lets them log in, then click on start, open up Word, start typing, come up with some creative word, or don't want to use a capital - AMBUSHED By assistance! Oh look, someone messaged me on Facebook (goes to facebook)......you get the idea

Him - a month later, book is done, life is good
THem - a month later, book.docx is not complete at all, has not an updated date than the day they started, and they have too many social events to tend to anyway because of facebook.

Hmm....sounds a bit like my life at times....maybe I should adopt the 486 again for daily tasks!

Caluser2000
May 16th, 2014, 03:12 PM
Him - powers on PC, cd\ws40, ws40.exe ->Boom, "clickly clickity clickity"Why bother with that? He can have it load up on start up.

g4ugm
May 16th, 2014, 11:35 PM
He isn't really "word processing" though is he. For what he is doing any simple editor would be ok. I am sure when his book is published it won't be in a non-proportional font and the page size won't be what his WP thinks it is. I could do the same on a mainframe 40 years ago.

I have just written a document on building a small radio. Its full of pictures and diagrams, with call outs and instruction lists. Doing anything like that is a total PITA on a DOS word processor. Even proportional fonts were a challenge. Even my IBM Typewriter does proportional fonts .....

Ole Juul
May 17th, 2014, 12:29 AM
I would assume that the fact that the DOS box doesn't do email or web browsing merely reduces the possible distractions.

And why would one not want to do e-mail on a DOS box? You can even do that off a floppy. Here are several mail transport agents for you. (http://cgs.coalmont.net/dos-mta.zip) ;)

A little while ago I talked about only using my DOS machine for a couple of months and I used a text browser. I got used to it. I'm not inclined that way, but a DOS box will play a lot of games and download pron images just fine. There are actually as many "distractions" as you can consume.

Anyway, back on topic: I like this author's approach. As g4ugm points out, it's not really "word processing", at least as we know it now. That is a good thing. A novel consists of words. It is up to the publisher to do the typography. I get people sending me .doc and .docx files all the time and it's just a nuisance, but unfortunately there is no telling them to send me a text file because I just get a blank stare. They're simply not that sophisticated. Nevertheless, I don't really want to see their amateurish attempts at page layout and type setting. I want the words. That's what writing is about.

BTW, Some years ago I heard from a friend of William Gibson's (I'm from the same town) that WG liked to type his stories on a typewriter, and then transcribe to a computer later. There's a feel to different ways of input.

Uniballer
May 17th, 2014, 02:31 AM
And why would one not want to do e-mail on a DOS box?
Whether he wants to or not is not the issue. He said in the video clip that he does email and web browsing, etc. on another computer. I can't remember if he actually said that his "writing" box was air-gapped, but I came away with that impression.

The other issue, of course, is MIME. I can't recall a DOS mail program that handles rich text, HTML, sound, pictures and video gracefully. Is there one? I know that email can still be useful without MIME but most people don't seem to know that they can configure their mail program to send plain text.

Chuck(G)
May 17th, 2014, 09:17 AM
Back in the day when I was running UUCP email, there were several separate programs for extracting and converting MIME content. And one could use Mosaic or Lynx to render HTML.

Email content tended to be much shorter than today, particularly when the lower comm speeds were common. I still have some of my old UUCP email to prove it.

Ole Juul
May 17th, 2014, 11:13 AM
Whether he wants to or not is not the issue. He said in the video clip that he does email and web browsing, etc. on another computer. I can't remember if he actually said that his "writing" box was air-gapped, but I came away with that impression.

The other issue, of course, is MIME. I can't recall a DOS mail program that handles rich text, HTML, sound, pictures and video gracefully. Is there one? I know that email can still be useful without MIME but most people don't seem to know that they can configure their mail program to send plain text.

Like you, I'd also assume that his DOS machine was not connected to the net. It wouldn't make sense for him.

MPAK.EXE and MUNPAK.EXE are a couple of useful utilities to deal with the MIME issue. There are others. I used to do all my e-mail in DOS without an e-mail "program" as such. You just need to understand what a header is supposed to look like and use a batchfile/template to simplify the procedure. Of course, as Chuck points out, there are perfectly good e-mail programs for DOS. For a while I used NetTamer which was extremely popular, though it's only for PPP. You're right though, people don't know how to send basic e-mail and are generally unclear on the concept, nevertheless I strip html on my end. It seems like the Microsoft programs that many people use are well behaved and actually send two files so that idiots like me can also be reached. :)

I also have much of the e-mail from way back in my DOS archives which are easily accessible on my local network. Apart from life's catastrophes taking its toll I've kept most stuff since the late 80's. With storage cost and convenience growing all the time it's not an issue. It's fun once in a while to go back and read BBS captures and some of my first e-mail.

Uniballer
May 17th, 2014, 03:00 PM
My earliest email exposure was all from character cell interaction on VMS and Unix systems, so it was all text. I remember a bit later having utilities that would deal with MIME attachments, but I wouldn't exactly call them graceful compared to handling them in a browser. I did get exposed to MSDOS in the early 286 days, but never did anything serious with it until around 1992, and I never personally used it for email (it was just a cheap target system to me). Anyway, the earliest RFC's on MIME seem to be dated June 1992, so AFAIK nothing of the kind existed before that.

I have virtually nothing from my PDP-11 and VAX days and before, except for a few things in the DECUS archives. Stuff I have kept myself starts around 1994.

Chuck(G)
May 17th, 2014, 04:36 PM
Yeah, what's their name--Freed and Borenstein, about 1993, actually. Before that, ftp to transfer files was pretty much the rule. But ftp is a "pull" technology--you have to get the file yourself, not have it pushed to you in an email. Were that true today, we'd probably have far less spam--although I'd seen email with Intel-style "hex" files included in email before that.

People really don't understand what telecoms was like in the 1980s. A 'high-speed" leased line could handle about 9600 bps and ran about $5000 monthly, including equipment rental in 1985.

That was about as fast as you could go.

Shadow Lord
May 17th, 2014, 05:09 PM
People really don't understand what telecoms was like in the 1980s. A 'high-speed" leased line could handle about 9600 bps and ran about $5000 monthly, including equipment rental in 1985.

That was about as fast as you could go.

True that. We are spoiled when it comes to that! 50MBps downstream makes people lazy in terms of file sizes, content, etc.

Uniballer
May 17th, 2014, 06:20 PM
Yeah, what's their name--Freed and Borenstein, about 1993, actually.
RFC 1341, 1342, 1343, 1344 all relate to MIME, and are all dated June 1992. I don't know if there was any working code to demonstrate at that time, though.


People really don't understand what telecoms was like in the 1980s. A 'high-speed" leased line could handle about 9600 bps and ran about $5000 monthly, including equipment rental in 1985.

Hmmm. The 1980's communication projects I remember best include running 3270 Bisync at a secure facility with cable in pressurized conduit with pressure drop alarms (not sure how much of that was to prevent/detect moisture infiltration and how much was for security). Another project had 21 sites connected by microwave radios. That one was all DEC gear so we ran DDCMP. But in both cases the bit rates were 9600 bps or lower.

Chuck(G)
May 17th, 2014, 06:41 PM
I'm cognizant of the rates and costs. Set up a Bell 209A link between St. Paul and San Jose in 1983. HASP, I seem to recall; bisync of some flavor. VAX/BSD at one end and something connected to a Cyber 205 on the other. Took forever to get the two systems talking.

Great Hierophant
May 17th, 2014, 07:07 PM
I for one would love to know the specific model or hardware specs of the machine he is using, what kind of hard drive or mass storage he has, and how he transfers files to/from his word processing PC to his modern PC so he can send it to the publisher. I understand that Moreover, what does your average publisher do when it gets sent GRRM's latest and greatest in WordStar 4.0 format? Or does he print it out and send it to the publisher for OCR?

The Wikipedia article on WordStar, as to the 4.0 version, seems to be contradictory as to whether it supports DOS 2.0 features. It says

By that point, MicroPro had dropped the generic MS-DOS WordStar and version 4.0 was exclusively for IBM compatibles. However, it continued to use the old DOS 1.x OS calls, which did not support directories and limited its usability on machines with hard disks.

But it later goes on to say :


WordStar 3.x will not function properly on modern versions of Windows. In particular, WordStar 3.x cannot save files. One work-around is to use the DOSEMU emulator on Linux, which correctly implements the FCB interface. (The DOSBox emulator does not, even on Linux.) WordStar 4.0 does not have this problem because it uses the newer MS-DOS interface for input/output. (OS/2 can run WordStar in a DOS session.)

This implies that it does support MS-DOS 2.0 file handles, and it would seem that would also include subdirectories and more generic storage devices like hard drives. Which is correct?

krebizfan
May 17th, 2014, 07:45 PM
The InfoWorld review of WordStar 4 (and the earlier review of New Word 3) point to support of directories and requirements for DOS 2. What I remember was that it was awkward to get at files in a different directory.

Chuck(G)
May 17th, 2014, 07:48 PM
WS 4 supports changing drive and directory. ("L" on the startup menu). (Am I the only one here with WS 3.3, 4 and 7 on my everyday system?)

http://www.zimagez.com/miniature/screenshot-05172014-085407pm.php (http://www.zimagez.com/zimage/screenshot-05172014-085407pm.php)