word processor history -- interesting article (Evan Koblentz)

Paul Berger phb.hfx at gmail.com
Fri Jul 8 13:46:05 CDT 2016

On 2016-07-08 3:19 PM, Liam Proven wrote:
> On 8 July 2016 at 20:00, Chuck Guzis <cclist at sydex.com> wrote:
>> On 07/08/2016 10:27 AM, Liam Proven wrote:
>>> Only hardcore IBM customers used DisplayWrite. It had, naturally,
>>> great support for IBM's (rather expensive but very solid) laser
>>> printers, which were slightly competitive and popular around the end
>>> of the 1980s/beginning of the 1990s. Odd spindly fonts, as I recall.
>>> My first employers sold a lot of copies of Ashton-Tate MultiMate, as
>>> it was the only mainstream network-aware WP for DOS LANs -- it
>>> supported both Netware and 3Com 3+Share, which was also popular
>>> around that time. It may have done file locking and network-drive
>>> shared templates, but as you say, proportionally-spaced fonts were a
>>> problem.
>> What I found surprising about the IBM Displaywriter was that much of the
>> "smarts" of the thing resided in the printer firmware itself (e.g.
>> underlining, bolding, etc.) and not the DW CPU unit--and, of course, the
>> printer used EBCDIC.
> Aha. I have never seen an actual DisplayWriter -- note that final "r".
> DisplayWrite (no "r" on the end) was a WP package for DOS. I believe
> it looked & worked quite like a hardware DisplayWriter, but as I said,
> I wouldn't know. I'm quite curious and I'm sorry I missed out on them.
> Oddly, at least oddly I was told, quite a few people/companies bought
> & used DisplayWrite even if they never had or used a hardware
> DisplayWriter. It wasn't very competitive but it was good enough --
> the "professional" tier of early DOS wordprocessors were all expensive
> and rather arcane.
There was also a version of displaywrite for 370, I am told that the 
only thing that is really similar is the name of the products. Before 
displaywriter the OP division of IBM produced the Office system 6 which 
had a really cool inkjet printer.... as long as you didn't have to fix 
them service reps called them "Spray and pray" They where not a thermal 
inkjet like most modern ones, but rather used a pressurized ink system 
to force the ink through nozzles on the print head, I saw one operating 
without the shroud around the printhead that sucked back overspray, it 
was really cool the print head moved along silently and the character 
just appeared on the page.  Print quality was very good.  The 6670 laser 
printer ( a copier 3 with a laser print head) was also originally part 
of that system  they also produced good quality results but often had 
duplexing issues.  later on there was the 5520 system which was really a 
S/34 running special software and a special version of the 5251 terminals.

The first purpose built wordprocessor I ever saw was a Micom system in a 
government office around 1980/81.  Micom first made wordprocessors based 
on 8080 around 1975.


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