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WordStar was a word processor application, originally written for the CP/M operating system (but later ported to MSDOS) that enjoyed a massive market share during the early-to-mid-1980s.

Table of contents
1 Description
2 The demise
3 Filename extensions
4 External links


Wordstar made editing of what it called "non-document" files easy. A ruler was provided above uniformly spaced characters, making it easy to edit data files to be read in to programs such as SPSS. This "non-document" mono-spaced option made it easy in the 1980s to work offline with data from mainframe computers. The "document" file, on the other hand, was its own type of file that kept track of non-break lines with a high-bit code. These were easily translated into another file by using a translator (which could be self-written).

Wordstar also featured add-in programs such as MailMerge, which allowed a document to be repetedly printed yet appear personal. This was a novel feature for personal computer users in the early-to-mid-1980s.

Although out of production for over a decade, WordStar has left an odd legacy: a large number of text editor programs running under MSDOS, Linux, and other UNIX variants, can emulate the WordStar keyboard commands consisting of Ctrl-key combinations. The popular Turbo Pascal compiler used WordStar keyboard commands in its IDE editor. Well-known commands to WordStar users were the Ctrl-S/E/D/X "diamond" for basic cursor movement, as well as Ctrl-A/F (word left/right) and Ctrl-R/C (page up/down).

(It's even possible to download a WordStar Keyboard Command Emulator for current versions of Microsoft Word (2003), but the sensation will not be exactly the same as using WordStar on a mid-1980s PC XT-era keyboard, where the Ctrl key was located where the Caps-Lock key is now.)

The demise

WordStar lost considerable market share in the late 1980s to WordPerfect, which used a smaller portion of the screen for menus etc., and used the same key sequences as a popular line of dedicated word processor computers, the Wang systems, and this gained it favor among secretaries.

Like many other producers of succesful DOS applications, WordStar delayed far too long before deciding to make a version for the commercially groundbreaking Windows 3.0. When it finally arrived on October 1, 1991 WordStar for Windows 1.0 was well ahead of the competition in terms of features and usability, and it even included many features normally only found in desktop publishing packages. However the launch delay meant that Microsoft Word had already firmly established itself as the corporate standard during the two previous years.

Filename extensions

External links