Oct 16, 2023·edited Oct 16, 2023

I would like to correct various factual errors in this recounting of the history. First of all, the genius Rob Barnaby had written WordStar entirely in Z80 assembler which was then cross assembled into 6502 Assembler for the early Apple computers.

He was a magician in terms of fitting a very complicated program into tiny RAM. In this case he was trying to fit over 100k lines of code into 64Kbytes of RAM. He seriously abused the overlay manager which would let you swap in various sections of code as needed.

Micropro was moving to a team approach and the solo programmer of Barnaby created conflicts, which culminated in him throwing his terminal out the window of the building.

At this time period, the applications had to carry their own printer drivers, and WordStar had to know the command codes for hundreds of printers. It was a full time position just to test all the printers being made.

Micropro wanted to upgrade their already good and hot selling product into something that would be more user friendly The original Wordstar, if you put in an extra BOLD tag, would flip polarity on all subsequent text, and do some crazy stuff that beginning users didn't find enjoyable. They hired a designer, Dan Druid, who was trained in the US Navy in Human Factors research, and very scientifically designed WordStar 2000.

I had a friend Karen Brown who worked at Micropro and i learned about their massive success, so as an education to myself i cloned WordStar in C on an IBM 370 located in SF at Reed Risk Insurance, an R&D firm that only had a few people on staff, but happened to have a monster 370 machine that was entirely unused at night.

After six months i had cloned the basics of WordStar, and got an introduction to Micropro staff, and because of the potential 1 million dollar offer from AT&T for a Unix version of WordStar, they hired me as lead programmer, and for the next year i worked with 12 programmers at Micropro to develop Wordstar 2000.

WordStar 2000 was a very well received product, and i hit my royalty cap in 2 months....

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I would like to correct some more errors. There was NO WordStar for the EPSON HX-20,(two Hitachi 6301 CPUs at 614 kHz - Cannot run CP/M) but there was for the EPSON PX-8 (z80 cpu) which used a ROM for program storage, 128kb RAM disk and microcassette based mass storage system.

CP/M was possible on the z80 softcard for the Apple ][

The other factor missing was software piracy. There was no way to protect CP/M software and piracy was, to say the least, rampant.

I worked for UK computer store from 1979-1992 and we had real problem with customers who purchased one copy of ever program and then duplicated it. CP/M came with machines but dBASE][, wordstar, caxton's Cardbox, SuperCalc, Perfect Office (Which was garbage) were regularly copied. People would pirate the software and buy the book from their local bookstore.

There was a UK group, 'FAST', Federation against software theft' and they raid organisations, large and small, and made their findings and fines, public.

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It would be useful to be able to do a pinch-zoom on mobile, the images ate unreadable without that ability. The zoom button doesn't make any difference on my Android phone.

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I may be mis-remembering. After it was almost 50 years ago. MicroPro did make a custom version for some Japanese early laptops, the Epson Maple for example

So they were using cross-assemblers and overlays to fit in the tiny RAM spaces of the original PC's.

I was not involved in Wordstar, only WordStar 2000 which was written in C by a team of 12 programmers over a year period. Micropro had been offered a million to port WordStar to UNIX, but that offer was turned down, as Micropro made way more money on DOS with WordStar 2000, which in the IBM PC era, which along with VisiCalc and the databases that popped up were giving small businesses a huge boost. Suddenly big companies had worse automation than little ones.

It was a golden era for small business in America, where the advantages of big credit lines to lease mainframes worked against you.

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The author of the "Game of Thrones" books Mr. Martin, i believe uses Wordstar or Wordstar 2000 to write all of his books. Wordstar had great ergonomics; if you were a touch typist you could control the cursor very quickly with control key shortcuts to move left and write a space or a word or to the line boundary. Using a mouse slows people way down if you are a fast typist, lifting your hands off the home row costs many milliseconds.

They did port Wordstar to the 8080 so maybe the other cross assembler. We should ask Jim Fox or Rob Barnaby.

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I've been using WordStar for 40 years (as of next month), and continue to write all my books with it (I'm a Hugo Award-winning science-fiction writer); I explain why I love it so much here:


I use WordStar 7.0D, the final MS-DOS version, under the DOSBox-X emulator (not plain DOSBox, but rather DOSBox-X, which has exellent specific WordStar support: https://dosbox-x.com/

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