April 10, 2009

Graphics Tech

The death of DOS word processing and the birth of WYSIWYG

I happened on a site this week that caused me to glance back at the road behind us. It is tempting to always be looking forward, but a dose of history from time to time doesn't hurt. The page I point you to offers the reflections of a man who ran THE most successful software company of its day--Pete Peterson and WordPerfect.

There are many points to be made about marketing, program development, competition in the industry and so on, but what I recall most by my encounter is the dramatic transition between the stark, code-like programs of the DOS era and the what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) programs of today.

Want to feel really old? Did you use any of the original versions of these: WordStar, Ami Pro, MultiMate, DisplayWrite, WordPerfect.

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These are modern compared to using general mark-up language (GML) such as IBM's script or Digital Equipment's Runoff. When I first started using these, there were no PCs, in fact the IBM PC was no on the market until 13 years after I started with GML.

If you look at the control sequences, like I frequently had to do with WordPerfect and MS Word 2 that were used for these wonderful DOS products.

The next level of evolution was Hyper-Text Markup Language (HTML) used extensively for web pages.

Now we have eXtensible Markup Language that is used for web business applications and for products such as Word (the new .docx file extension).

Thanks for making me feel like a dinosaur; time to pull out the old Remington!


So primarily, what you are saying is, you are REALLY OLD.

I worked a long term temp job at IBM years and years ago in the department involved in marketing DisplayWrite but never really used it. The first time I opened up WordPerfect (tried it because everyone said it was the best) and saw a big blank screen I was clueless where to begin. Even though I figured it out I just never could fall in love with WP the way I loved Ami Pro. Used it for years.

Good to hear you Jacci.

Samna Ami Pro. There’s a blast from the past. One of my first products was a collection of templates for Ami Pro. I went down and met with the original developers in Atlanta.

Hey Chuck. Bob's post reminded me of my first encounters with markup language. It was at the IBM job. Had no idea what it was called and none of the people I worked with knew what it was either but I played around on the company Intranet (or whatever they called it back then) and discovered this cool code you could put into documents and make them all fancy.

My boss was impressed. I spent hours playing with documents and running down the hall to the printer to see what the page looked like (and then re-doing it over and over). It wasn't until long after that I realized I'd been dabbling in SGML.

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