Personal Computer Museum, Canada's Videogame Museum

WordStar v3.31

WordStar v3.31
WordStar v3.31

Floppy (5.25")1



Release Date: 1/1/1983
Manufacturer: MicroPro
Donated By: John Logan
WordStar was a word processor application, published by MicroPro, 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. Rubinstein was the principal owner of the company, Rob Barnaby was the sole author of the early versions of the program; starting with WordStar 4.0, the program was built on new code written principally by Peter Mierau.

WordStar was originally developed for CP/M in 1978. It was the most feature-rich and easy-to-use word processor available for this operating system, and became a de facto standard. In 1981 WordStar version 2.26 was bundled with the Osborne 1 portable computer. Notably, WordStar was the last commercial word processor supporting the CP/M operating system. Release 4, the final CP/M compatible version, was sold with 5ΒΌ" floppy disk as a default, and an 8" version as an option.

The 3.0 version of WordStar for DOS was released in April 1982. The DOS version was very similar to the original, and although the IBM PC featured arrow keys and separate function keys, the traditional "WordStar diamond" and other Ctrl-key functions were retained, leading to rapid adoption by former CP/M users. WordStar's ability to use a "non-document" mode to create text files without formatting made it popular among programmers for writing code.

The first DOS version was a direct port of the CP/M version, and therefore only used 64K of RAM even though DOS supported up to 640K. Users quickly learned they could make this version of WordStar run dramatically faster by using the ability of DOS to create a "RAM disk" in memory, and copy the WordStar program files into it. WordStar would still access the "disk" repeatedly, but the far faster access of the RAM drive compared to a floppy disk yielded a substantial speed improvement. However, edited versions of a document were "Saved" only to this RAM disk, and had to be copied to physical magnetic media before rebooting.

By the mid-1980s WordStar was the most popular word processing software in the world. But IBM dominated the "dedicated word processor" market with its "IBM DisplayWrite" application, which ran on machines dedicated to writing and editing documents. There were many dedicated word processing machines at the time, but IBM's main competition was Wang Laboratories. Such machines were expensive and were generally accessed through terminals connected to central mainframe or midrange computers.

This version is still in the original shrinkwrap!

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