Word Star

Once the world's best and most popular word processors, released in 1979 by Micropro International Inc. It was later supplanted by WordPerfect which was undeniably the most popular until MicrosoftWord took over. I think many people still debate whether or not WordPerfect was actually better than WordStar, but I think tools like grammar checking make WordPerfect the clear winner (although, I should note that grammar checking was a third party package for many years).

Lest we forget, WordStar for CP/M would run in 48K on a 8080 and gave acceptable performance. On a PC it was fast.

I remember on DOS 3 it bypassed the floppy driver, spoke directly to the controller, and generally spaghettified your floppy if you made the slightest mistake. -- PhlIp

It could process huge files long before anything else could because it kept most of the file on disk.

Nice feature. But other programs do that without bypassing the drivers.

[inserted] As a reminder, there was SpellStar? a spell checker (from MicroPro?) and Grammatik (by another company) which provided grammar checking. WordStar could also be modified but it wasn't for the faint of heart. I wrote an article that described how to make patches to the print menu to add items specifically found on Epson printers. If you want to see "cool" consider downloading one of the Apple ][ emulators for PC's, loading Apple CP/M on it and running WordStar under that. I've watched my dBASE II (CP/M) programs from some 15 or so years ago operating. It is almost scary. -- TomLeylan

[also] WordStar was the first program in whose manual I discovered an empty page on which appeared the words This page unintentionally left blank.


WordStar screenshot:

You can find a lot of good resources about WordStar from http://www.inventors.about.com/science/inventors/library/weekly/aa0399.htm such as the history of WordProcessors, a picture of Seymour Rubenstein, the creator of WordStar, and etc.

"I am happy to greet the geniuses who made me a born-again writer, having announced my retirement in 1978, I now have six books in the works and two [probables], all through WordStar." ArthurCeeClarke on meeting Rubenstein and Barnaby

-- JuneKim


I can't seem to learn vi now that I have notepad to fall back on ... but I still know the ctrl-k wordstar commands.

Then on Linux enjoy JoesOwnEditor ;-> (in its "jstar" variant - that is, install joe, then start it as jstar)


If I remember correctly, the Wordstar "dot commands" are reminiscent of troff. (For example: ".ce" "centre line", ".." comment.) Not the first time I've seen the troff "dot commands" cloned in a wordprocessor. I believe Acornsoft's "View" did that too. --


Was WordStar the first software to use a WikiWord?

Surely not. For instance, wasn't VisiCalc spelled that way too?

Except that DanBricklin wrote VisiCalc after WordStar was already on the market.

I guess they didn't want it to be called WordsTar?


IIRC, the most frequent operations were mapped to key combinations that involved the base keys asdf-jkl;, such as Ctrl-K-S and Ctrl-K-D. When you touch-type, these keys are your fingers default and starting positions, making these key combinations very convenient and fast, much more so than any function keys. Your Mileage May Have Varied :-) -- FalkBruegmann

Many editors appeared that used these Ctrl-K commands. E.g. the built-in editor of TurboPascal had WordStar key bindings. JoesOwnEditor and jed are two unix editors that come with WordStar key bindings (but they can also both be configured to use Emacs key bindings). -- StephanHouben


I thought I remembered some connection between WordStar and StarOffice. TomLeylan provided the following link which makes no reference to such a connection.

Here is a link to a history of WordStar: http://www.petrie.u-net.com/wordstar/history/history.htm

The precursor to StarOffice was StarWriter, a WordProcessor that ran on DOS. It may have borrowed some keystrokes from MicroPro?'s WordStar - I'll have to check my copy. -- GarryHamilton


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