“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.” Quote from Arthur C. Clarke on meeting Seymour Rubenstein and Rob Barnaby, the inventors of Wordstar.
WordStar – The First Word Processor
Released in 1979 by Micropro International, WordStar was the first commercially successful word processing software program produced for microcomputers and the best selling software program of the early eighties.
What is Word Processing?
Word processing can be defined as the manipulation of computer generated text data including creating, editing, storing, retrieving and printing a document.
The Electric Pencil
The first computer word processors were line editors, software-writing aids that allowed a programmer to make changes in a line of program code. Altair programmer Michael Shrayer decided to write the manuals for computer programs on the same computers the programs ran on. He wrote the somewhat popular and the actual first PC word processing program, the Electric Pencil in 1976.
Other early word processor programs worth noting were: Apple Write I, Samna III, Word, WordPerfect and Scripsit.
Seymour Rubenstein and Rob Barnaby
Seymour Rubenstein first started developing an early version of a word processor for the IMSAI 8080 computer when he was director of marketing for IMSAI. He left to start MicroPro International Inc. in 1978 with only $8,500 in cash.
Software programmer Rob Barnaby was convinced to leave IMSAI and tag along with Rubenstein to join MicroPro. Rob Barnaby wrote the 1979 version of WordStar for CP/M. Jim Fox, Barnaby’s assistant, ported (meaning re-wrote for a different operating system) WordStar from the CP/M operating system* to MS/PC DOS.
The 3.0 version of WordStar for DOS was released in 1982. Within three years, WordStar was the most popular word processing software in the world. However by the late 1980s, programs like WordPerfect knocked Wordstar out of the word processing market after the poor performance of WordStar 2000.
“In the early days, the size of the market was more promise than reality… WordStar was a tremendous learning experience. I didn’t know all that much about the world of big business. I thought I knew it” Quote from Seymour Rubenstein the inventor of WordStar
*The CP/M operating system was developed by Gary Kildall, founder of Digital Research, copywritten in 1976 and released in 1977. MS/PC DOS is the famous operating system introduced by MicroSoft and Bill Gates in 1981.