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My timeline of text/word processing

When we laid our hands on computers in 1990–1991, it was WordStar 4 falling into disuse and WordPerfect 5.1 vehemently coming in. WordStar had continued to be in use for quite some time, but we switched to WordPerferct after using WordStar for a very brief period. We hardly knew then what word processing was and what text editing should mean.

WordStar 4
WordStar 4

Every time we needed to edit the autoexec.bat file to make the computer behave certain ways or config.sys file mostly to manage the computer memory, it was a 64k affair then, we used MS DOS Editor, or edit, a TUI text editor.

TUI text editor MS DOS Edit.

We wrote everything that we needed in WordPerfect 5.1. I bought the WordPerfect 5.1: The Complete Reference, written by Karen L Acerson published in 1990. It was a huge book, spanning 1297 pages, and I read the whole and had the contents on my mental plan for years. A quote of the corporation’s executive vice-president Pete Peterson on the back cover said: ‘Karen probably knows WordPerfect better than anyone else (except me).’ And I effortlessly used to tell my friends that the next man knowing it so well was me.

Word Perfect 5.1
WordPerfect 5.1

Pressing Alt+F3 would divide the screen horizontally, with the formatting codes on the bottom screen for users to certainly delete any formatting codes. This was the feature I had missed all the while I used MS Word, since its version 1 to

As we rolled into the windowed world, some time in 1993, at the hands of Microsoft Corporation, I started using MS Word 6.0, which ran on Windows 3.1. But I chanced on a copy of Winword v. 1, on a system that came from France. It felt nice having run the program for a while.

Winword 1
Microsoft Word in its version 1.

It has since then been the Microsoft Word that I have used both at home and in office until the time when Winword became too heavy for the task of simple writing and smart enough in not letting me certain mistakes. I have also depreciated the tendency of Microsoft Word to behave like an operating system and to act smart. I wanted something dumb, dumber than the Winword that it promised to become.

In 2006–2007, I started usng StarWriter, which is said to be the parent to OpenOffice and the grandparent to LibreOffice. for a brief period.

StarOffice 3
Star Office 3

I then switched to OpenOffice and, finally, to LibreOffice, which I need to use at office because the office requires the files to be in MS Word document format.

Sun OpenOffice
Sun OpenOffice

I have used LibreOffice since 2012 at office although the recent releases seem quite heavy for word-processing jobs. What compounds the word-processing scene is that every word-processor, especially Microsoft Word, has tried to process words and to help the users to lay out documents, which we have traditionally done in Corel Ventura, PageMaker, QuarkXpress and, recently, InDesign on Windows and on Scribus on ✶nix.

LibreOffice, writer, of Document Foundation

Yet, wordprocessors have only remained my enforced choices. And, there is th compatibility issue. I have, therefore, used text editors all long for my personal chores, writing, editing or whatever coding that I once regularly did and now seldom do.

Besides MS DOS Edit, the first IDE that I used was the Quick Basic Editor. I had used the program for a few years when I started learning how to program.

Quick Basic IDE
The Quick Basic Editor.

When I took FoxPro programming, I sarted using the FoxPro IDE that shipped with the program until 1996 when I sort of stopped using any programming languages.

FoxPro IDE
The FoxPro IDE.

Besides having used the MS Windoes Notepad, which is a good way to purge text of all formatting, and (Win) Write, which later changed into WordPad, I have used Bluefish, Mined and Yudit.

MS Notepad
MS Notepad.

I started using TextPad, on Windows, some time in the first decade of the century and have been glued to it since then mainly because of its regular expression capabilities.

TextPad in its version 4.1.

But Emacs has been my text editor of choice since the early days of the century when I switched to Red Hat Linux. I now use it both on FreeBSD, which I migrated to on my home computer in 2021, and Windows, at office.

Emacs splash screen.

I learnt how to use vi about the same time, which is needed for system chores. I like the vi or its improved version because of its spelling check capabilities.

Vim opening screen.

On the layout front, the first desktop publishing software that I used was Ventura on DOS, in 1992. But I used it for brief periods on two occasions.

Ventura Publisher
Ventua Publisher running on DOS.

The next big desktop publishing software that I had used for a long time, with a discernible command over its scripting language was Aldus PageMake and even after it changed to Adobe Pagemaker, more towards the turn of the century.

Aldus Pagemaker
Aldus Pagemaker.

I started using QuarkXpress in the first decade of the century and continued using it for a few eyars.


I started using InDesign, occasionally, on Windows and Scribus, also occasionally, on Slackware and FreeBSD, as I do most of my DTP chores in Plain TeX or (plain) XeTeX.




Rev.: vii·xi·mmxxii