RetroMacCast

Where great old Macs live again!

Just working away on Microsoft Word and thinking back to the earlier days of word processing when I first started using a computer (in this case a Mac 512K) in the mid 1980s. One area that as an industry software seems to have gotten out of control on is the area of feature bloat. As I recall in the mid 1980s prior to the emergence of productivity application suites we had some great stand-alone applications. One application that came to mind was WriteNow! a mid 1980s word processing application that was well ahead of the competition. Unfortunately I don't recall this application making it much beyond version 2.0 at which point the Microsoft monopoly started to kick-in and gain increasing share. Anyone remember who made WriteNow - too bad we can't get some healthy competition and more importantly innovation going again.

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Was it Cassady & Greene? My favourite of the era was Clarisworks...
Yes, it's sad that open source projects like AbiWord and OpenOffice have only set out to mimic Word rather than outdo it. Then again, one could argue that any simplified word processor will outdo Word...

Did FullWrite outlast it or did it die shortly after WriteNow? :-)

I'm very pleased to see that Nisus Writer is still hanging in there, though, and with style! If only Eudora, Retrospect, and other Classic apps had evolved so beautifully in the era of OS X.

The automatic Computer Chronicles catalogue in my head says that you can see a little demo of WriteNow on a Mac II at the Internet Archive [Computer Chronicles/Mac Business Software], along with 4th Dimension, Excel (ooh, automatic graph creation...) and MultiFinder.
WriteNow was my main word processor for 10+ years. I bought it for my Plus after reading an article in MacUser magazine when it came out. I think it was the cover story. I still have version 4 on my SE/30 under System 6, which makes a great word processing set-up.

I've often thought that there really hasn't been much new in word processing since the 1980's. My first word processors were PerfectWriter and WordStar on the KayPro II, a CP/M machine, in 1982. As I recall, they had almost all of what most people need in a word processor, even today: search and replace; moving and copying blocks of text; setting magins, indents, and tabs; spell check; footers and headers with various options; footnotes; and so on. WordStar was sort of WYSIWYG, in that it showed page breaks accurately, but PerfectWriter was not. (It had a writing mode and a page view mode.) About the only features not available in those early programs that I would miss are tables and styles.

I think the Macintosh was initially a step backwards for word processing since MacWrite was such a limited program, more of a demo of the GUI really. It took programs like WriteNow and Word 4, another great program, to get the Mac back to where WordStar had been half a decade earlier.

(The history of WriteNow is actually quite interesting for retro fans. Wikipedia has the highlights. The twist is that NeXT was involved, before the cube was released, but WriteNow was licensed to T/Maker, another company that long-time Macintosh users will remember, especially anyone in the graphics business. I think the WriteNow About Box might have been the first time I heard of this new company from Steve Jobs called NeXT. There is also a fun Easter egg in the About Box that I wasted many minutes watching.)
I bought it as well. it was lightning fast on the SE.

There is the original CD, Ⓒ 1995 by Softkey Int. Inc.; still installed on some of my computers. And I used WordStar on a Sharp MZ80B running CP/M 2.2.2, which was faaaar away from WYSIWYG; soft- and hardware made in 1982 or 1983.

Great !
Thumbs up as well for Clarisworks.
I still use it once in a while.

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