32 Facts About WordStar


WordStar dominated the market in the early and mid-1980s, succeeding the market leader Electric Pencil.

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WordStar was written with as few assumptions as possible about the operating system and machine hardware, allowing it to be easily ported across the many platforms that proliferated in the early 1980s.

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WordStar founded MicroPro International Corporation in September 1978 and hired John Robbins Barnaby as programmer, who wrote a word processor, WordMaster, and a sorting program, SuperSort, in Intel 8080 assembly language.

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WordStar was the first microcomputer word processor to offer mail merge and textual WYSIWYG.

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Users quickly learned they could make WordStar run dramatically faster by installing a RAM disk board, and copying the WordStar program files into it.

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WordStar had until then never successfully exploited the MS-DOS keyboard, and that is one explanation for its demise.

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WordStar 5 added footnote and endnote capability and a fairly advanced Page preview function.

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WordStar 2000 supported features such as disk directories, but lacked compatibility with the file formats of existing WordStar versions and made numerous unpopular changes to the interface.

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BYTE stated that WordStar 2000 had "all the charm of an elephant on motorized skates", warning in 1986 that an IBM PC AT with hard drive was highly advisable to run the software, which it described as "clumsy, overdesigned, and uninviting.

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WordStar 2000 had a user interface that was substantially different from the original WordStar, and the company did little to advertise this.

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WordStar, which did not have a corporate sales program until December 1983, developed a poor reputation among customers.

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WordStar purchased Legacy, an existing Windows-based word processor, which was altered and released as WordStar for Windows in 1991.

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WordStar is no longer developed, maintained or sold by its owners.

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WordStar was the program of choice for conservative intellectual William F Buckley, Jr.

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WordStar said of WordStar, "I'm told there are better programs, but I'm told there are better alphabets.

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Vampire fiction writer Anne Rice was another faithful user of WordStar who struggled to have it installed on newer computers until it could no longer reasonably be done.

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WordStar was one of the first WYSIWYG word processors, showing accurate line breaks and page breaks.

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WordStar used sequences of alphabetic keys combined with the "Control" key, which on keyboards of the time was conveniently next to the letter A in the position now usually occupied by the Caps Lock key.

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Early versions of WordStar lacked features found in other word processors, such as the ability to automatically reformat paragraphs to fit the current margins as text was added or deleted; a command had to be issued to force reformatting.

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WordStar was rare among word processing programs in that it permitted the user to mark a block of text (with ^KB and ^KK commands) and leave it marked in place, and then go to a different position in the document and later (even after considerable work on other things) copy the block (with ^KC) or move it to a new location (with ^KV).

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The subsequent WordStar 2000 retained WordStar's distinctive functionality for block manipulation.

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Formatting with WordStar was carried out before the text to be formatted - unlike many other word processors where the formatting of a paragraph is 'buried' within the usually hidden paragraph marker at the end of the paragraph.

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WordStar 2000 added few new commands, but completely rewrote the user interface, using simple English-language mnemonics.

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However, many in WordStar's large installed user based were happy with the original WordStar interface, and did not consider the changes to be improvements.

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Original WordStar interface left a large legacy, and many of its control-key command are still available in other programs, such as the modern cross-platform word processing software TextMaker and many text editors running under MS-DOS, Linux, and other UNIX variants.

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WordStar identified files as either "document" or "nondocument, " which led to some confusion among users.

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WordStar 5 introduced a document-mode "print preview" feature, allowing the user to inspect a WYSIWYG version of text, complete with inserted graphics, as it would appear on the printed page.

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Occasionally short machine-language programs had to be entered in a patch area in WordStar, to provide particular screen effects or cope with particular printers.

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In October 2014, WordStar support was added to vDos, a derivative of DOSBox but optimized for business applications; vDos allows WordStar 4.

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WordStar, as developed by Elbit, was the first word processor that offered bi-directional input and mixed alphabets.

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For several years Hebrew-English WordStar was the de facto WYSIWYG word processor leader until, inevitably, it was ousted by younger competitors.

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Since 2013 a partial WordStar clone has been in the process of being developed under the name of WordTsar.

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