Recent Purchase WordStar 3.40Posted: August 22, 2014
If I said I was going to the seaside, what is the first thing that pops inside your head? Ice-cream? Soft drinks? Sandy beaches? You probably would not think yard sales, charity shops and vintage computer software. Well that’s how we roll at BMV, never stopping in our quest to find old bits of computer paraphernalia. On this occasion I discovered a boxed copy of Wordstar 3.40. The box comprises of one thick reference and installation manual, another thinner training guide and a starter kit containing two floppy disks.
A Little History
Some of you may or may not be familiar with Wordstar. You can be forgiven for not recognising the name. But what if I told you writers such as George R.R Martin (Game of Thrones), Arthur C. Clarke (Space Odyssey) and Robert J. Sawyer swear by the software? Released in 1979, Wordstar became one of the most widely used Word processors during the early 80s. Amongst its strengths was the fact the software was not computer specific. Originally developed for the CP/M operating system, Wordstar was intended to run on just about any CP/M computer, regardless of brand. Later in 1983 with the rising popularity of DOS based computers, Micropro released a new version, Wordstar 3.0. A direct port of the CP/M version, 3.0 retained many of the original keyboard short cuts making it easy for CP/M users to continue using the software on a newer DOS based platform.
You might be wondering why I’m bothering with such an old piece of software and not using Microsoft Word. It’s true using Word with it’s easy to use GUI and icons would probably make things very easy, mainly because I have been using Word since I was in my teens. But should I rule out other ways of doing things, just because I’m accustomed to one way? Personally I like variety, I also like DOS and old software; DOS, old software and old computers. If there is a theme or purpose to my blog, it’s to show people that there are still ways to get things done using old hardware. Distractions like Facebook and the internet can sometimes get in the way of productivity. Goodness knows I’ve lost track of time while pottering around on the net, getting very little done in the process.
So today, armed with a cup of coffee, I sat down with the Nomad running Wordstar via DOSbox. After an hour or two I was able to get this entire blog entry written. Admittedly it will need proof reading before I upload it to WordPress, as I do not have the Spellstar add-on. Learning the keyboard layout will be the hardest challange. IBM compatible machines do not have the same keyboard layout as early CP/M computers, so not everything is where you might expect it to be.
If I have one gripe about Wordstar, it would be the default blue page background which I find hard on the eyes while typing. For the vast majority of the time, I found looking down at my keyboard helped. Which in turn caused me to focus on my typing and actually improved my typing speed and decreased my typos… well, to at least a small degree.
So for me, Wordstar 3.4 scores 6/10
– Lots of functionality
– Distraction free typing
– Old, needs DOS or DOSbox to run
– Lack of customisation e.g altering the display colours
– Keyboard layout takes some getting used to
If you fancy trying out Wordstar, then why not try this freeware alternative: