Too Much Free Time

Discussion and reviews of games for NES, Intellivision, DOS, and others.

EW

Posted by Tracy Poff on September 19, 2014

Now that I’ve looked at the two major players on PC, let’s take a look at some word processors for other platforms, beginning with the Sharp X68000.

EW

This word processor is identified as “X68000 Word Processor << EW >> Version 1.20O”, a 1988 release by EAST Co., Ltd. (which company still exists, by the way).

EW looks quite similar to other word processors from the eighties: simply and ugly, including the (inexplicable!) choice to display hard returns on screen. Its ruler also measures not the size of the text on the page, but the number of columns occupied by the text. Fully 96 (half-width) columns are available.

You interact with the program’s extended features by either pressing escape to select from the menu, or pressing control key combinations to access other functions.

EW doesn’t have quite the feature set of WordPerfect, but it’s much lighter–roughly 900k, of which 388k is the dictionary. Being small may not be sufficient excuse for being ugly and limited, though: if my brief foray into historic Japanese sources (vintage 1989/1990–practically ancient!) doesn’t mislead me, EW wasn’t a well-regarded piece of software.

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6 Responses to “EW”

  1. unwashedmass said

    It’s a curious series: retro apps certainly don’t have the glamour that retro games do. All the same, I would be very interested to once more see my first PC text editor, the disappeared-from-the-historical-record “8-in-1”, a kind of primitive Office. Then my dad brought home Word but we didn’t have enough space left on the hard drive to install it, so he experimented by deleting included files and seeing if their absence had an obvious effect on the program’s function (a la “what do you mean I can’t run EDIT if I delete Qbasic?”) Have you considered capturing some video output of yourself running these programs and eg. their print preview modes?

    • Tracy Poff said

      Of course I’m not precisely in love with text editors (though I admit to a soft spot for Magic Slate, which was my first text editor), but I think that the late eighties to early nineties are a very interesting time, as interfaces shifted away from consoles and keyboards and toward graphics and mice.

      Coincidentally, I have indeed thought about video (loth though I am to use video in place of text and images), and I have recorded one already, demonstrating an interesting hypertext editor that I encountered. Look for that post in the next few days.

      Interestingly enough, many of these applications have no kind of print preview mode, as they were quite incapable of displaying anything but regular console-mode text. Back then, of course, word processors were intended for preparing documents for print, not for display on computer screens, so this wasn’t as big a drawback as it would be today. Unfortunately, my X68k emulator does not emulate a printer, and I never quite managed to get DOSBox printing to work (I wanted my Mario Teaches Typing certificate!), so I can’t even fake printing in order to show what the typeset documents would look like. A substantial disappointment, as you may imagine.

      As for 8-in-1: Easy Working: The Planner (for Apple II) mentions that it imports 8-in-1 files, and this guy mentions it in the context of Apple II as well. Did you use it on Apple, or was it a multiplatform affair? Enquiring minds want to know!

  2. unwashedmass said

    Of course I’m not precisely in love with text editors (though I admit to a soft spot for Magic Slate, which was my first text editor)

    Gosh, my first text editor would be the Color Scripsit for the CoCo — oh hey, documented relatively well at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scripsit — and I have fond memories of tweaking the C64 editor, ingeniously named “The Editor”, in Grade 3, so on loading it would read “Rowan’s Awesome Editor” or somesuch. But plenty of hours were sunk into apps and utils just as part of the business of everyday computer use between gaming sessions, and they’re poorly documented even when in many cases they weren’t all that much less fun than the games. At different times I ran both Doublespace and later Stacker in an attempt to milk greater performance from my sadly gutless hardware. And there were all kinds of intriguing pseudo-graphical front-ends like eg. DOSSHELL that are hard to get a good look at these days, stuck in the rift between “This requires an MS-DOS setup to run” and “DOSBox is not actually MS-DOS.”

    Coincidentally, I have indeed thought about video (loth though I am to use video in place of text and images),

    Video alone is rarely ever enough to be satisfying, though reviewing word processors you are in the unique position of being able to tell your thoughts on the matter textually within the body of the video, while demonstrating the program’s abilities. (I remember getting my mind blown by The Dot Eaters’ screencap of the Coleco Adam SmartWriter at http://thedoteaters.com/tde/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/coleco-adam-wp.jpg)

    I may be presuming too much, but have you seen any of my recent series of YouTube videos of boring-ass MS-DOS apps, eg. Telemate at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOx9fLBJO1w ?

    an interesting hypertext editor that I encountered

    Hypertext or HTML?

    Back then, of course, word processors were intended for preparing documents for print, not for display on computer screens, so this wasn’t as big a drawback as it would be today.

    Back when “WYSIWIG” was a thing and not a given!

    I never quite managed to get DOSBox printing to work (I wanted my Mario Teaches Typing certificate!)

    Yeah, having gone to the effort of finishing Braminar, I regret not being able to print my certificate of completion. I doubt I will be duplicating that particular feat.

    As for 8-in-1: Easy Working: The Planner (for Apple II) mentions that it imports 8-in-1 files, and this guy mentions it in the context of Apple II as well. Did you use it on Apple, or was it a multiplatform affair? Enquiring minds want to know!

    Oh, I went from the CoCo right to early MS-DOS: Word’s opening “HAL 9000” logo (http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20100725231222/logopedia/images/f/f6/Microsoft_Logo_Historical.svg) is a vivid recollection. And 8-in-1 was in MS-DOS as well. I still have some data files from it, long lists of materials for my kaiju combat game.

    • Tracy Poff said

      Ah, memories… I remember changing… was it Notepad or Word, perhaps?… so the title bar had my name in it. I didn’t understand the details at the time, but I empirically determined that the replacement text had to be the same length as the original. And back in 1997 or so, when some DOS games just wouldn’t run under Windows, I had a stack of disks that booted into different carefully configured DOS environments for running different games.

      I may be presuming too much, but have you seen any of my recent series of YouTube videos of boring-ass MS-DOS apps

      In fact I had not. And don’t sell yourself short: I suspect my investigation of word processors is likely to be substantially more boring. The videos of ANSI viewers are very fun, too; there’s something about seeing the art scrolling by that is better than just seeing the whole thing at once.

      Hypertext or HTML?

      Hypertext! The program is from 1990, so HTML hadn’t quite been invented yet (though it was more than a mere gleam in Tim Berners-Lee’s eye, by then). In fact the program is like nothing so much as a personal wiki, like WikidPad (a program I make extensive use of). I was fairly impressed by it.

      And 8-in-1 was in MS-DOS as well.

      I can’t help but be impressed by the degree to which programs were ported to multiple platforms, back in the eighties. It was so much harder to do, then, but it happened so very frequently! It seems like practically every game was ported to half a dozen platforms, and even this horrible editor was apparently ported to at least PC-98.

      Incidentally, for your viewing pleasure, I’ve uploaded the video of Magic Slate that I recorded a few months ago when I was trying to get my capture card adjusted. I should probably get back to that project–I’ve had my Apple IIe sitting on my desk, attached to my capture card, for the last six months or so, waiting on me, but there’s always something else to do.

  3. unwashedmass said

    I didn’t understand the details at the time, but I empirically determined that the replacement text had to be the same length as the original.

    The genesis of t9n!

    And don’t sell yourself short: I suspect my investigation of word processors is likely to be substantially more boring.

    It’s a race to the bottom!

    I was figuring that on some level we ought to work together on a project, as we seem to be doing a lot of similar undertakings working together, separately. Joining forces we could double our potential reach to parties interested in our esoteric beats! (Twice nothing, though, remains nothing.)

    The videos of ANSI viewers are very fun, too; there’s something about seeing the art scrolling by that is better than just seeing the whole thing at once.

    Context was important! I compare the appear of ANSI somewhat to that of a peepshow. Some folks have printed out whole ANSIs like tapestries and exhibited them on walls, but I always felt that to preserve the mystery allure of their original presentation, the (backlit, transparent) tapestry should be obscured by something like a 25-line moving window that viewers can use to see only a portion of the piece at a time.

    I should video-fy some of the scene’s ANSImations, that’s a unique and charming artform that is totally unlike anything that happened before or since.

    Hypertext! The program is from 1990, so HTML hadn’t quite been invented yet

    Your choice of words was so particular I figured you were getting at this, but all the same… there wasn’t a lot of hypertexting going on up in that mother at the time. Well, I suppose there was, but they were calling it things like “mind mapping”. And, well, Hypercard was a thing. (And Eastgate Systems were on the cutting edge!)

    I can’t help but be impressed by the degree to which programs were ported to multiple platforms, back in the eighties. It was so much harder to do, then, but it happened so very frequently! It seems like practically every game was ported to half a dozen platforms, and even this horrible editor was apparently ported to at least PC-98.

    I sometimes wonder what the computing scene might look like if the market fragmentation of the early ’80s had persisted. I can’t help but think that it provided the competitive conditions needed for evolution to result, while this seems a stagnant era.

    Incidentally, for your viewing pleasure

    Roundly appreciated! There’s nothing quite like the Apple 2 trying to draw white lines.

  4. […] « EW […]

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