Word processor
Overview
 
A word processor is a computer
Computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

 application
Application software
Application software, also known as an application or an "app", is computer software designed to help the user to perform specific tasks. Examples include enterprise software, accounting software, office suites, graphics software and media players. Many application programs deal principally with...

 used for the production (including composition, editing, formatting, and possibly printing) of any sort of printable material.

Word processor may also refer to a type of stand-alone office machine, popular in the 1970s and 1980s, combining the keyboard text-entry and printing functions of an electric typewriter with a dedicated processor (like a computer processor) for the editing of text.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
A word processor is a computer
Computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

 application
Application software
Application software, also known as an application or an "app", is computer software designed to help the user to perform specific tasks. Examples include enterprise software, accounting software, office suites, graphics software and media players. Many application programs deal principally with...

 used for the production (including composition, editing, formatting, and possibly printing) of any sort of printable material.

Word processor may also refer to a type of stand-alone office machine, popular in the 1970s and 1980s, combining the keyboard text-entry and printing functions of an electric typewriter with a dedicated processor (like a computer processor) for the editing of text. Although features and design varied between manufacturers and models, with new features added as technology advanced, word processors for several years usually featured a monochrome display and the ability to save documents on memory cards or diskettes. Later models introduced innovations such as spell-checking programs, increased formatting options, and dot-matrix printing. As the more versatile combination of a personal computer
Personal computer
A personal computer is any general-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and original sales price make it useful for individuals, and which is intended to be operated directly by an end-user with no intervening computer operator...

 and separate printer
Computer printer
In computing, a printer is a peripheral which produces a text or graphics of documents stored in electronic form, usually on physical print media such as paper or transparencies. Many printers are primarily used as local peripherals, and are attached by a printer cable or, in most new printers, a...

 became commonplace, most business-machine companies stopped manufacturing the word processor as a stand-alone office machine. As of 2009 there were only two U.S. companies, Classic and AlphaSmart
AlphaSmart
The AlphaSmart is a brand of portable, battery powered, word-processing keyboards manufactured by NEO Direct, Inc. , currently owned by Renaissance Learning, Inc.-Background:...

, which still made stand-alone word processors. Many older machines, however, remain in use. Since 2009, Sentinel has offered a machine described as a word processor, but in actuality it is more accurately a highly specialised microcomputer, used for accounting and publishing.

Word processors are descended from early text formatting tools (sometimes called text justification tools, from their only real capability). Word processing
Word processing
Word processing is the creation of documents using a word processor. It can also refer to advanced shorthand techniques, sometimes used in specialized contexts with a specially modified typewriter.-External links:...

 was one of the earliest applications for the personal computer
Personal computer
A personal computer is any general-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and original sales price make it useful for individuals, and which is intended to be operated directly by an end-user with no intervening computer operator...

 in office productivity.

Although early word processors used tag-based markup
Markup language
A markup language is a modern system for annotating a text in a way that is syntactically distinguishable from that text. The idea and terminology evolved from the "marking up" of manuscripts, i.e. the revision instructions by editors, traditionally written with a blue pencil on authors' manuscripts...

 for document formatting, most modern word processors take advantage of a graphical user interface
Graphical user interface
In computing, a graphical user interface is a type of user interface that allows users to interact with electronic devices with images rather than text commands. GUIs can be used in computers, hand-held devices such as MP3 players, portable media players or gaming devices, household appliances and...

 providing some form of what-you-see-is-what-you-get editing. Most are powerful systems consisting of one or more programs that can produce any arbitrary combination of image
Image
An image is an artifact, for example a two-dimensional picture, that has a similar appearance to some subject—usually a physical object or a person.-Characteristics:...

s, graphics
Graphics
Graphics are visual presentations on some surface, such as a wall, canvas, computer screen, paper, or stone to brand, inform, illustrate, or entertain. Examples are photographs, drawings, Line Art, graphs, diagrams, typography, numbers, symbols, geometric designs, maps, engineering drawings,or...

 and text, the latter handled with type-setting capability.

Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word is a word processor designed by Microsoft. It was first released in 1983 under the name Multi-Tool Word for Xenix systems. Subsequent versions were later written for several other platforms including IBM PCs running DOS , the Apple Macintosh , the AT&T Unix PC , Atari ST , SCO UNIX,...

 is the most widely used word processing software. Microsoft estimates that over 500,000,000 people use the Microsoft Office
Microsoft Office
Microsoft Office is a non-free commercial office suite of inter-related desktop applications, servers and services for the Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X operating systems, introduced by Microsoft in August 1, 1989. Initially a marketing term for a bundled set of applications, the first version of...

 suite, which includes Word. Many other word processing applications exist, including WordPerfect
WordPerfect
WordPerfect is a word processing application, now owned by Corel.Bruce Bastian, a Brigham Young University graduate student, and BYU computer science professor Dr. Alan Ashton joined forces to design a word processing system for the city of Orem's Data General Corp. minicomputer system in 1979...

 (which dominated the market from the mid-1980s to early-1990s on computers running Microsoft's MS-DOS
MS-DOS
MS-DOS is an operating system for x86-based personal computers. It was the most commonly used member of the DOS family of operating systems, and was the main operating system for IBM PC compatible personal computers during the 1980s to the mid 1990s, until it was gradually superseded by operating...

 operating system
Operating system
An operating system is a set of programs that manage computer hardware resources and provide common services for application software. The operating system is the most important type of system software in a computer system...

) and open source
Open source
The term open source describes practices in production and development that promote access to the end product's source materials. Some consider open source a philosophy, others consider it a pragmatic methodology...

 applications OpenOffice.org Writer
OpenOffice.org Writer
OpenOffice.org Writer is the word processor component of the OpenOffice.org software package. Writer is a word processor similar to Microsoft Word and Corel's WordPerfect, with some of their features....

, AbiWord
AbiWord
AbiWord is a free and open source software word processor. It was originally started by SourceGear Corporation as the first part of a proposed AbiSuite. Development stopped when SourceGear changed their focus to Internet appliances. AbiWord was adopted by some open source developers and AbiWord...

, KWord
KWord
Calligra Words is a free word processor, part of Calligra Suite and developed by KDE.The text-layout scheme in Words is based on frames, making it similar to FrameMaker by Adobe. These can be placed anywhere on the page, and can incorporate text, graphics and embedded objects...

, and LyX
LyX
LyX is a document processor following the self-coined "what you see is what you mean" paradigm , as opposed to the WYSIWYG ideas used by word processors...

. Web-based word processors, such as Office Web Apps
Office Web Apps
Microsoft Office Web Apps is a web-based version of the Microsoft Office productivity suite. It includes the web-based versions of Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft OneNote. The web applications allow users to access their documents directly from anywhere within a...

 or Google Docs, are a relatively new category.

Characteristics

Word processing typically implies the presence of text manipulation functions that extend beyond a basic ability to enter and change text, such as automatic generation of:
  • batch mailings using a form letter template
    Template (word processing)
    The term template, when used in the context of word processing software,refers to a sample "fill-in-the-blank" document that can be completed either by handor through an automated iterative process, such as with a software assistant. Once...

     and an address database (also called mail merging);
  • indices of keywords and their page numbers;
  • tables of contents with section titles and their page numbers;
  • tables of figures with caption titles and their page numbers;
  • cross-referencing with section or page numbers;
  • footnote numbering;
  • new versions
    Revision control
    Revision control, also known as version control and source control , is the management of changes to documents, programs, and other information stored as computer files. It is most commonly used in software development, where a team of people may change the same files...

     of a document using variables (e.g. model numbers, product names, etc.)


Other word processing functions include spell checking (actually checks against wordlists), "grammar checking" (checks for what seem to be simple grammar errors), and a "thesaurus" function (finds words with similar or opposite meanings). Other common features include collaborative editing, comments and annotations, support for images and diagrams and internal cross-referencing.

Word processors can be distinguished from several other, related forms of software:

Text editor
Text editor
A text editor is a type of program used for editing plain text files.Text editors are often provided with operating systems or software development packages, and can be used to change configuration files and programming language source code....

s were the precursors of word processors. While offering facilities for composing and editing text, they do not format documents. This can be done by batch document processing systems, starting with TJ-2
TJ-2
TJ-2 was published by Peter Samson in May 1963 and is thought to be the first page layout program. Although it lacks page numbering, page headers and footers, TJ-2 is the first word processor to provide a number of essential typographic alignment and automatic typesetting features:*Columnation,...

 and RUNOFF
RUNOFF
RUNOFF was the first computer text formatting program to see significant use. It was written in 1964 for the CTSS operating system by Jerome H. Saltzer in MAD assembler....

 and still available in such systems as LaTeX
LaTeX
LaTeX is a document markup language and document preparation system for the TeX typesetting program. Within the typesetting system, its name is styled as . The term LaTeX refers only to the language in which documents are written, not to the editor used to write those documents. In order to...

 (as well as programs that implement the paged-media extensions to HTML
HTML
HyperText Markup Language is the predominant markup language for web pages. HTML elements are the basic building-blocks of webpages....

 and CSS
Cascading Style Sheets
Cascading Style Sheets is a style sheet language used to describe the presentation semantics of a document written in a markup language...

). Text editors are now used mainly by programmer
Programmer
A programmer, computer programmer or coder is someone who writes computer software. The term computer programmer can refer to a specialist in one area of computer programming or to a generalist who writes code for many kinds of software. One who practices or professes a formal approach to...

s, website designers, computer system administrators, and, in the case of LaTeX
LaTeX
LaTeX is a document markup language and document preparation system for the TeX typesetting program. Within the typesetting system, its name is styled as . The term LaTeX refers only to the language in which documents are written, not to the editor used to write those documents. In order to...

 by mathematicians and scientists (for complex formulas and for citations in rare languages). They are also useful when fast startup times, small file sizes, editing speed and simplicity of operation are preferred over formatting.

Later desktop publishing
Desktop publishing
Desktop publishing is the creation of documents using page layout software on a personal computer.The term has been used for publishing at all levels, from small-circulation documents such as local newsletters to books, magazines and newspapers...

 programs were specifically designed to allow elaborate layout for publication, but often offered only limited support for editing. Typically, desktop publishing programs allowed users to import text that was written using a text editor or word processor.

Almost all word processors enable users to employ styles, which are used to automate consistent formatting of text body, titles, subtitles, highlighted text, and so on.

Styles greatly simplify managing the formatting of large documents, since changing a style automatically changes all text that the style has been applied to. Even in shorter documents styles can save a lot of time while formatting. However, most help files refer to styles as an 'advanced feature' of the word processor, which often discourages users from using styles regularly.

Document statistics

Most current word processors can calculate various statistics
Statistics
Statistics is the study of the collection, organization, analysis, and interpretation of data. It deals with all aspects of this, including the planning of data collection in terms of the design of surveys and experiments....

 pertaining to a document
. These usually include:
  • Character
    Character (computing)
    In computer and machine-based telecommunications terminology, a character is a unit of information that roughly corresponds to a grapheme, grapheme-like unit, or symbol, such as in an alphabet or syllabary in the written form of a natural language....

     count, word count
    Word count
    The word count is the number of words in a document or passage of text. Word counting may be needed when a text is required to stay within certain numbers of words. This may particularly be the case in academia, legal proceedings, journalism and advertising. Word count is commonly used by...

    , sentence
    Sentence (linguistics)
    In the field of linguistics, a sentence is an expression in natural language, and often defined to indicate a grammatical unit consisting of one or more words that generally bear minimal syntactic relation to the words that precede or follow it...

     count, line count, paragraph
    Paragraph
    A paragraph is a self-contained unit of a discourse in writing dealing with a particular point or idea. A paragraph consists of one or more sentences. The start of a paragraph is indicated by beginning on a new line. Sometimes the first line is indented...

     count, page
    Page (paper)
    A page is one side of a leaf of paper. It can be used as a measurement of documenting or recording quantity .-The page in typography:...

     count.
  • Word, sentence and paragraph length.
  • Editing time.

Errors are common; for instance, a dash surrounded by spaces — like either of these — may be counted as a word.

Typical usage

Word processors have a variety of uses and applications within the business world, home, and education.

Business

Within the business world, word processors are extremely useful tools. Typical uses include:
  • legal copies
  • letters and letterhead
    Letterhead
    A letterhead is the heading at the top of a sheet of letter paper . That heading usually consists of a name and an address, and a logo or corporate design, and sometimes a background pattern...

  • memo
    Memo
    Memo may refer to:* Most commonly Memorandum.* Bench memorandum, law* Memorandum Recordings - record company* Mêmo* MEMO - specialization in electrical engineering that studies Microwaves, Electromagnetism and Optoelectronic...

    s
  • reference documents


Businesses tend to have their own format and style for any of these. Thus, versatile word processors with layout editing and similar capabilities find widespread use in most businesses.

Education

Many schools have begun to teach typing and word processing to their students, starting as early as elementary school. Typically these skills are developed throughout secondary school in preparation for the business world. Undergraduate students typically spend many hours writing essays. Graduate and doctoral students continue this trend, as well as creating works for research and publication.

Home

While many homes have word processors on their computers, word processing in the home tends to be educational, planning or business related, dealing with assignments or work being completed at home, or occasionally recreational, e.g. writing short stories. Some use word processors for letter writing, résumé creation, and card creation. However, many of these home publishing processes have been taken over by desktop publishing programs specifically oriented toward home use which are better suited to these types of documents.

History

The term word processing was invented by IBM in the late 1960s. By 1971 it was recognized by the New York Times as a "buzz word". A 1974 Times article referred to "the brave new world of Word Processing or W/P. That's International Business Machines talk... I.B.M. introduced W/P about five years ago for its Magnetic Tape Selectric Typewriter
Magnetic tape selectric typewriter
The IBM MT/ST is a model of the IBM Selectric typewriter itegrated with magnetic tape recording and playback facilities and built into its own small desk. It was released by IBM in 1964. It recorded text typed on magnetic tape, 25 kilobytes per cassette tape, and allowed editing and re-recording...

 and other electronic razzle-dazzle."

IBM defined the term in a broad and vague way as "the combination of people, procedures, and equipment which transforms ideas into printed communications," and originally used it to include dictating machines and ordinary, manually-operated Selectric typewriters. By the early seventies, however, the term was generally understood to mean semiautomated typewriters affording at least some form of electronic editing and correction, and the ability to produce perfect "originals." Thus, the Times headlined a 1974 Xerox product as a "speedier electronic typewriter", but went on to describe the product, which had no screen, as "a word processor rather than strictly a typewriter, in that it stores copy on magnetic tape or magnetic cards for retyping, corrections, and subsequent printout."

Electromechanical paper-tape-based
Punched tape
Punched tape or paper tape is an obsolete form of data storage, consisting of a long strip of paper in which holes are punched to store data...

 equipment such as the Friden Flexowriter
Friden Flexowriter
The Friden Flexowriter was a teleprinter, a heavy duty electric typewriter capable of being driven not only by a human typing, but also automatically by several methods including direct attachment to a computer and by use of paper tape....

 had long been available; the Flexowriter allowed for operations such as repetitive typing of form letters (with a pause for the operator to manually type in the variable information), and when equipped with an auxiliary reader, could perform an early version of "mail merge
Mail merge
Mail merge is a software function which allows to create multiple documents from a single template form and a structured data source.-History:This technique of merging data to create gave rise to the term mail merge....

". Circa 1970 it began to be feasible to apply electronic computers to office automation tasks. IBM's Mag Tape Selectric Typewriter (MTST) and later Mag Card Selectric (MCST) were early devices of this kind, which allowed editing, simple revision, and repetitive typing, with a one-line display for editing single lines.

The New York Times, reporting on a 1971 business equipment trade show, said
The "buzz word" for this year's show was "word processing," or the use of electronic equipment, such as typewriters; procedures and trained personnel to maximize office efficiency. At the IBM exhibition a girl typed on an electronic typewriter. The copy was received on a magnetic tape cassette which accepted corrections, deletions, and additions and then produced a perfect letter for the boss's signature....


In 1971, a third of all working women in the United States were secretaries, and they could see that word processing would have an impact on their careers. Some manufacturers, according to a Times article, urged that "the concept of 'word processing' could be the answer to Women's Lib advocates' prayers. Word processing will replace the 'traditional' secretary and give women new administrative roles in business and industry."

The 1970s word processing concept did not refer merely to equipment, but, explicitly, to the use of equipment for "breaking down secretarial labor into distinct components, with some staff members handling typing exclusively while others supply administrative support. A typical operation would leave most executives without private secretaries. Instead one secretary would perform various administrative tasks for three or more secretaries." A 1971 article said that "Some [secretaries] see W/P as a career ladder into management; others see it as a dead-end into the automated ghetto; others predict it will lead straight to the picket line." The National Secretaries Association, which defined secretaries as people who "can assume responsibility without direct supervision," feared that W/P would transform secretaries into "space-age typing pools." The article considered only the organizational changes resulting from secretaries operating word processors rather than typewriters; the possibility that word processors might result in managers creating documents without the intervention of secretaries was not considered—not surprising in an era when few but secretaries possessed keyboarding skills.

In 1972, Stephen Dorsey, Founder and President of Canadian company Automatic Electronic Systems (AES), introduced the world’s first programmable word processor with a video screen. The real breakthrough by Dorsey’s AES team was that their machine stored the operator’s texts on magnetic disks. Texts could be retrieved from the disks simply by entering their names at the keyboard. It was actually a sophisticated microcomputer that could be reprogrammed by changing the instructions contained within a few chips.

In 1975, Dorsey started Micom Data Systems and introduced the Micom 2000 word processor. The Micom 2000 improved on the AES design by using the Intel 8080 single-chip microprocessor, which made the word processor smaller, less costly to build and supported multiple languages.

In addition, the competitive edge for the Micom 2000 was that, unlike many other machines, it was truly programmable. The Micom machine countered the problem of obsolescence by avoiding the limitations of a hard-wired system of program storage. The Micom 2000 utilized RAM, which was mass-produced and totally programmable. The Micom 2000 was said to be a year ahead of its time when it was introduced into a marketplace that represented some pretty serious competition such as IBM, Xerox and Wang Laboratories.

In 1978, Micom partnered with Dutch multinational Philips NV and Dorsey grew Micom's sales position to number three among major word processor manufacturers, behind only IBM and Wang.

In the early 1970s, computer scientist Harold Koplow
Harold Koplow
Harold Koplow , an American computer scientist and one of the early developers of office automation equipment, was raised in Lynn, Massachusetts. When his father developed health problems, Koplow became a pharmacy technician at his father's store, Broadway Pharmacy...

 was hired by Wang Laboratories
Wang Laboratories
Wang Laboratories was a computer company founded in 1951 by Dr. An Wang and Dr. G. Y. Chu. The company was successively headquartered in Cambridge , Tewksbury , and finally in Lowell, Massachusetts . At its peak in the 1980s, Wang Laboratories had annual revenues of $3 billion and employed over...

 to program calculators. One of his programs permitted a Wang calculator to interface with an IBM Selectric typewriter, which was at the time used to calculate and print the paperwork for auto sales.

In 1974, Koplow's interface program was developed into the Wang 1200 Word Processor, an IBM Selectric-based text-storage device. The operator of this machine typed text on a conventional IBM Selectric; when the Return key was pressed, the line of text was stored on a cassette tape. One cassette held roughly 20 pages of text, and could be "played back" (i.e., the text retrieved) by printing the contents on continuous-form paper in the 1200 typewriter's "print" mode. The stored text could also be edited, using keys on a simple, six-key array. Basic editing functions included Insert, Delete, Skip (character, line), and so on.

The labor and cost savings of this device were immediate, and remarkable: pages of text no longer had to be retyped to correct simple errors, and projects could be worked on, stored, and then retrieved for use later on. The rudimentary Wang 1200 machine was the precursor of the Wang Office Information System (OIS), introduced in 1976. It was a true office machine, affordable by organizations such as medium-sized law firms, and easily learned and operated by secretarial staff.

The Wang was not the first CRT-based machine nor were all of its innovations unique to Wang. In the early 1970s Linolex, Lexitron and Vydec introduced pioneering word-processing systems with CRT
Cathode ray tube
The cathode ray tube is a vacuum tube containing an electron gun and a fluorescent screen used to view images. It has a means to accelerate and deflect the electron beam onto the fluorescent screen to create the images. The image may represent electrical waveforms , pictures , radar targets and...

 display
Computer display
A monitor or display is an electronic visual display for computers. The monitor comprises the display device, circuitry, and an enclosure...

 editing. A Canadian electronics company, Automatic Electronic Systems, had introduced a product in 1972, but went into receivership a year later. In 1976, refinanced by the Canada Development Corporation
Canada Development Corporation
The Canada Development Corporation was a Canadian corporation created and partly owned by the federal government and charged with developing and maintaining Canadian-controlled companies in the private sector through a mixture of public and private investment...

, it returned to operation as AES Data, and went on to successfully market its brand of word processors worldwide until its demise in the mid-1980s. Its first office product, the AES-90, combined for the first time a CRT-screen, a floppy-disk and a microprocessor, that is, the very same winning combination that would be used by IBM for its PC seven years later. The AES-90 software was able to handle French and English typing from the start, displaying and printing the texts side-by-side, a Canadian government requirement. The first eight units were delivered to the office of the then Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, in February 1974.
Despite these predecessors, Wang's product was a standout, and by 1978 it had sold more of these systems than any other vendor.

The phrase "word processor" rapidly came to refer to CRT-based machines similar to the AES 90. Numerous machines of this kind emerged, typically marketed by traditional office-equipment companies such as IBM, Lanier (marketing AES Data machines, re-badged), CPT, and NBI.
All were specialized, dedicated, proprietary systems, with prices in the $10,000 ballpark. Cheap general-purpose computers were still the domain of hobbyists.

Some of the earliest CRT-based machines used cassette tapes for removable-memory storage until floppy diskettes became available for this purpose - first the 8-inch floppy, then the 5-1/4-inch (drives by Shugart Associates
Shugart Associates
Shugart Associates was a computer peripheral manufacturer that dominated the floppy disk drive market in the late 1970s and is famous for introducing the 5¼-inch minifloppy disk drive....

 and diskettes by Dysan
Dysan
Dysan was a storage media manufacturing corporation, formed in 1973 in San Jose, California, by CEO and former president C. Norman Dion of San Jose, California...

).

Printing of documents was initially accomplished using IBM Selectric typewriters modified for ASCII
ASCII
The American Standard Code for Information Interchange is a character-encoding scheme based on the ordering of the English alphabet. ASCII codes represent text in computers, communications equipment, and other devices that use text...

-character input. These were later replaced by application-specific daisy wheel printer
Daisy wheel printer
Daisy wheel printers use an impact printing technology invented in 1969 by David S. Lee at Diablo Data Systems. It uses interchangeable pre-formed type elements, each with typically 96 glyphs, to generate high-quality output comparable to premium typewriters such as the IBM Selectric, but two to...

s (Diablo
Diablo Data Systems
Diablo Data Systems was a division of Xerox created by the acquisition of Diablo Systems Inc. in 1972.It is best known for the Diablo 630 daisywheel printer, but also produced the hard disk drives that were resold by DEC as the RK02 and RK03....

, which became a Xerox company, and Qume
Qume
Qume was a manufacturer of daisy-wheel printers originally located in Hayward, California, later moving to San Jose. Around 1980, it also opened a manufacturing facility in Puerto Rico. It once dominated the daisy-wheel market. As the market for its printers declined in the 1980s, the company...

 -- both now defunct.) For quicker "draft" printing, dot-matrix line printers were optional alternatives with some word processors.

Electric Pencil
Electric Pencil
Electric Pencil, released in December 1976 by Michael Shrayer, was the first word processor for home computers.-History:In 1975, the "laid-back" Shrayer was "semi-retired" from 20 years as a New York filmmaker, and had moved to California for a quieter life...

, released in December 1976, was the first word processor software for microcomputers. Software-based word processors running on general-purpose personal computers gradually displaced dedicated word processors, and the term came to refer to software rather than hardware. Some programs were modeled after particular dedicated WP hardware. MultiMate
MultiMate
MultiMate was a word processor developed by Softword Systems Inc. for IBM PC MS-DOS computers in the early 1980s. Wilton H. Jones, a programmer turned entrepreneur MultiMate was a word processor developed by Softword Systems Inc. (later renamed Multimate International) for IBM PC MS-DOS computers...

, for example, was written for an insurance company that had hundreds of typists using Wang systems, and spread from there to other Wang customers. To adapt to the smaller, more generic PC keyboard, MultiMate used stick-on labels and a large plastic clip-on template to remind users of its dozens of Wang-like functions, using the shift, alt and ctrl
CTRL
CTRL may refer to several things:*Channel Tunnel Rail Link, a high-speed railway line opened in the 2000s in Britain*Control key, an input button present on most computer keyboards*Ctrl, an American comedy web series from NBC...

 keys with the 10 IBM function keys and many of the alphabet keys.

Other early word-processing software required users to memorize semi-mnemonic key combinations rather than pressing keys labelled "copy" or "bold." (In fact, many early PCs lacked cursor keys; WordStar
WordStar
WordStar is a word processor application, published by MicroPro International, originally written for the CP/M operating system but later ported to DOS, that enjoyed a dominant market share during the early to mid-1980s. Although Seymour I...

 famously used the E-S-D-X-centered "diamond" for cursor navigation, and modern vi-like editors encourage use of hjkl for navigation.) However, the price differences between dedicated word processors and general-purpose PCs, and the value added to the latter by software such as VisiCalc
VisiCalc
VisiCalc was the first spreadsheet program available for personal computers. It is often considered the application that turned the microcomputer from a hobby for computer enthusiasts into a serious business tool...

, were so compelling that personal computers and word processing software soon became serious competition for the dedicated machines. Word processing became the most popular use for personal computers, and unlike the spreadsheet (dominated by Lotus 1-2-3
Lotus 1-2-3
Lotus 1-2-3 is a spreadsheet program from Lotus Software . It was the IBM PC's first "killer application"; its huge popularity in the mid-1980s contributed significantly to the success of the IBM PC in the corporate environment.-Beginnings:...

) and database (dBase
DBASE
dBase II was the first widely used database management system for microcomputers. It was originally published by Ashton-Tate for CP/M, and later on ported to the Apple II and IBM PC under DOS...

) markets, WordPerfect
WordPerfect
WordPerfect is a word processing application, now owned by Corel.Bruce Bastian, a Brigham Young University graduate student, and BYU computer science professor Dr. Alan Ashton joined forces to design a word processing system for the city of Orem's Data General Corp. minicomputer system in 1979...

, XyWrite
XyWrite
XyWrite is a word processor for DOS and Windows modeled on the ATEX mainframe program. Popular with writers and editors for its speed and degree of customization, XyWrite was in its heyday the house word processor in many editorial offices, including the New York Times from 1989 to 1993...

, Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word is a word processor designed by Microsoft. It was first released in 1983 under the name Multi-Tool Word for Xenix systems. Subsequent versions were later written for several other platforms including IBM PCs running DOS , the Apple Macintosh , the AT&T Unix PC , Atari ST , SCO UNIX,...

, pfs:Write
Pfs:Write
pfs:Write was a simple early word processor for Apple II and DOS systems created by Software Publishing Corporation. It included basic features such as automatic word wrapping, spell checking, copy and paste, underlining, and boldfacing...

, and dozens of other word processing software brands competed in the 1980s; PC Magazine
PC Magazine
PC Magazine is a computer magazine published by Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc. A print edition was published from 1982 to January 2009...

reviewed 57 different programs in one January 1986 issue. Development of higher-resolution monitors allowed them to provide limited WYSIWYG
WYSIWYG
WYSIWYG is an acronym for What You See Is What You Get. The term is used in computing to describe a system in which content displayed onscreen during editing appears in a form closely corresponding to its appearance when printed or displayed as a finished product...

 - What You See Is What You Get, to the extent that typographical features like bold and italics, indentation, justification and margins were approximated on screen.

The mid-to-late 1980s saw the spread of laser printers, a "typographic" approach to word processing, and of true WYSIWYG bitmap
Bitmap
In computer graphics, a bitmap or pixmap is a type of memory organization or image file format used to store digital images. The term bitmap comes from the computer programming terminology, meaning just a map of bits, a spatially mapped array of bits. Now, along with pixmap, it commonly refers to...

 displays with multiple fonts (pioneered by the Xerox Alto
Xerox Alto
The Xerox Alto was one of the first computers designed for individual use , making it arguably what is now called a personal computer. It was developed at Xerox PARC in 1973...

 computer and Bravo
Bravo (software)
Bravo was the first WYSIWYG document preparation program. It provided multi-font capability using the bitmap displays on the Xerox Alto personal computer...

 word processing program), PostScript
PostScript
PostScript is a dynamically typed concatenative programming language created by John Warnock and Charles Geschke in 1982. It is best known for its use as a page description language in the electronic and desktop publishing areas. Adobe PostScript 3 is also the worldwide printing and imaging...

, and graphical user interface
Graphical user interface
In computing, a graphical user interface is a type of user interface that allows users to interact with electronic devices with images rather than text commands. GUIs can be used in computers, hand-held devices such as MP3 players, portable media players or gaming devices, household appliances and...

s (another Xerox PARC
Xerox PARC
PARC , formerly Xerox PARC, is a research and co-development company in Palo Alto, California, with a distinguished reputation for its contributions to information technology and hardware systems....

 innovation, with the Gypsy
Gypsy (software)
Gypsy was the first document preparation system based on a mouse and graphical user interface to take advantage of those technologies to virtually eliminate modes. Its operation would be familiar to any user of a modern personal computer...

 word processor which was commercialised in the Xerox Star
Xerox Star
The Star workstation, officially known as the Xerox 8010 Information System, was introduced by Xerox Corporation in 1981. It was the first commercial system to incorporate various technologies that today have become commonplace in personal computers, including a bitmapped display, a window-based...

 product range). Standalone word processors adapted by getting smaller and replacing their CRTs with small character-oriented LCD displays. Some models also had computer-like features such as floppy disk drives and the ability to output to an external printer. They also got a name change, now being called "electronic typewriters" and typically occupying a lower end of the market, selling for under $200 USD.

MacWrite
MacWrite
MacWrite was a word processor application released along with the first Apple Macintosh systems in 1984. It was the first such program that was widely available to the public to offer WYSIWYG operation, with multiple fonts and styles...

, Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word is a word processor designed by Microsoft. It was first released in 1983 under the name Multi-Tool Word for Xenix systems. Subsequent versions were later written for several other platforms including IBM PCs running DOS , the Apple Macintosh , the AT&T Unix PC , Atari ST , SCO UNIX,...

 and other word processing programs for the bit-mapped Apple Macintosh screen, introduced in 1984, were probably the first true WYSIWYG word processors to become known to many people until the introduction of Microsoft Windows. Dedicated word processors eventually became museum pieces.

See also

  • Amstrad PCW
    Amstrad PCW
    The Amstrad PCW series was a range of personal computers produced by British company Amstrad from 1985 to 1998, and also sold under licence in Europe as the "Joyce" by the German electronics company Schneider in the early years of the series' life. When it was launched, the cost of a PCW system was...

  • Authoring systems
    Authoring systems
    The "Intelligent tutoring system" research community uses the term authoring system to refer to a computer based system that allows a general group to create content for intelligent tutoring systems...

  • Canon Cat
    Canon Cat
    The Canon Cat was a task-dedicated, desktop computer released by Canon Inc. in 1987 at a price of $1495 USD. On the surface it was not unlike the dedicated word processors popular in the late 1970s to early 1980s, but it was far more powerful and incorporated many unique ideas for data...

  • Comparison of word processors
    Comparison of word processors
    -General information:This table provides general information about selected word processors.-Characteristics:This table gives characteristics of each word processor.-Operating System Compatibility:...

  • Content management system
    Content management system
    A content management system is a system providing a collection of procedures used to manage work flow in a collaborative environment. These procedures can be manual or computer-based...

  • CPT Word Processors
    CPT Word Processors
    CPT was started in 1971 by Dean Scheff in Minneapolis, Minnesota.CPT started off by offering a cassette memory accessory for the IBM Selectric Typewriter.Their major competition in the space was Wang and Xerox.Models:...

  • List of word processors
  • Office suite
    Office suite
    In computing, an office suite, sometimes called an office software suite or productivity suite is a collection of programs intended to be used by knowledge workers...

  • TeX
    TeX
    TeX is a typesetting system designed and mostly written by Donald Knuth and released in 1978. Within the typesetting system, its name is formatted as ....

  • Typography
    Typography
    Typography is the art and technique of arranging type in order to make language visible. The arrangement of type involves the selection of typefaces, point size, line length, leading , adjusting the spaces between groups of letters and adjusting the space between pairs of letters...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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