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Old software still useful today?


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#1 troff OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:03 PM

MEMORIES LIMITED TO 640KB - IBM WRITING ASSISTANT
 
Sometime around 1985, I got my first personal computer, an IBM PCjr.  Sure, sure, laugh... the Junior was and continues to be the brunt of many a joke.
 
But I learned a LOT on that PCjr. It's not really an exaggeration to say that it launched my career.  I learned to program in BASIC and Turbo Pascal on the Junior.  I learned a little about Assembly Language. I was introduced to the early online world of BBSes using its slow - even for the time - 300 baud modem. I played lots of games on it. And, I wrote papers for school on it.
 
Our PCjr came with a copy a word processor called IBM Writing Assistant. While I had used a computer before we the Junior, I'm almost positive that I had my first experience with a word processor on that Junior, and it was Writing Assistant.
 
Honestly, Writing Assistant was a pretty good, if basic, word processor. It had all the features I needed at the time: a nice WYSIWYG text mode interface that allows you to lay out text on the screen pretty much the way it will print out on paper, easy intuitive keys to move around the text, on-screen help, spell checker, the ability to mark text as bold and underlined, basic cut and paste operations, headers and footers. 
 
It was good enough that I don't think I ever even considered switching to another word processor the entire time I used the PCjr. I think I stuck with it right until I switched to Windows 3.
 
I was dedicated to Writing Assistant to a fault. In fact, after I had been using Writing Assistant at home for many years, they "introduced" us to word processing at school.  They taught us to use a program called "PFS: Write" on the Apple //'s. The first time I saw PFS: Write I blurted out, "They ripped off IBM Writing Assistant!" Of course, much later, I would come to find out that it was much the other way. "IBM Writing Assistant" was in fact an OEM rebranded version of PFS: Write, which had started out in the MS-DOS  world.
 
Eventually, I did move on from Writing Assistant. Sometimes by force.  In college, we had to use Enable. I had a job that forced me to use WordPerfect. That Windows word processor I mentioned earlier was WordStar Legacy. Eventually, like everyone else, I settled into Microsoft Word.
 
Recently, in a fit of nostalgia, I wondered if IBM Writing Assistant was as good as I remembered it. I still have the manuals, and the original 5.25" disks. And thanks to the wonders of DOSBox, it is now running on my modern computer. In fact, I wrote this little article using it. And the truth is, it's not that bad. For all the years of "advancement", the truth is, if you just want to write a short paper on something, it still works really well. Maybe I'll actually continue to do some writing with it. And thanks to its "print to file" feature I'll be able to import the text into
whatever I want.
 
How about you? Do you have any old programs that still hold up many years later despite being "obsolete"?
 

 



#2 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:11 PM

 

MEMORIES LIMITED TO 640KB - IBM WRITING ASSISTANT
 
How about you? Do you have any old programs that still hold up many years later despite being "obsolete"?
 

 

 

 

Back in the day there were a few programs I was never without.

 

For DOS they were:  Direct Access 5.0, Golden Gate Professional Write and Telix

For Windows 3.1 era:  AmiPro 3.0



#3 vidak OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:23 PM

There is still a world of BBS servers out there!

 

Telnet and usenet still function, and many 8bit and 16bit micros can be converted to use ethernet to connect to them.



#4 David Baldwin OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:24 PM

At the moment I have installed on my 486 pc with Windows 95a is RedShift 2 Astronamy programe nathing wrong

with old programes on old computers just as good as new hardware.



#5 thetick1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:40 PM

I still use my old '96 IBM Power Workstation just because it's' cool to run emulation on a vintage 1996 ($150,000 retail in '96) workstation .  I have the latest Mozilla Firefox , latest VICE, DOOM, Quake, an old Mac OS 9 emulator and an old Sega emulator.  I switched from AIX to Linux just a few years back because the last AIX version supported was ancient.  And it was a real chore to rebuild ssh/ssl/samba with all the security issues and well many other packages that should be upgraded and patched but require LOTS of config code changes as the old AIX version and xlc and gcc compilers are not well supported with modern open source software.  I keep it as I ported open source software to AIX many years ago so I'm a bit of an expert at that but it is lots of work regardless of how good one is at it.

 

Occasionally I still boot up the old AIX OS with Xwindows/mwm and play Sonic , DOOM, Quake, Lemmings on MacOS 9 emulator, and VICE (C64 Ghostbusters!) all at the same time in their own window.  It's a bit difficult to play more one at a time but others can all be in the background or loading. tThe workstation has a slow processor by today's standards but a huge amount of memory and memory bandwidth for '96.  It has 2GB of memory which even by modern standards is not really bad amount of memory for well designed Unix OS. I think it's just cool.  


Edited by thetick1, Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:58 PM.


#6 troff OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 24, 2018 8:45 PM

 

Back in the day there were a few programs I was never without.

 

For DOS they were:  Direct Access 5.0, Golden Gate Professional Write and Telix

For Windows 3.1 era:  AmiPro 3.0

 

Telix was also my favorite for online use.  It was the third program I used, but I fell in love with it and never looked back.



#7 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 24, 2018 8:49 PM

I still use my old '96 IBM Power Workstation just because it's' cool to run emulation on a vintage 1996 ($150,000 retail in '96) workstation .  

Can we see some pictures of this coal-burning monster?



#8 Gamemoose OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 24, 2018 8:54 PM

 
Back in the day there were a few programs I was never without.
 
For DOS they were:  Direct Access 5.0, Golden Gate Professional Write and Telix
For Windows 3.1 era:  AmiPro 3.0


Ami Pro! When my Dad got a 386 Wang PC clone, it came with Windows 3.1 and someone slipped him a copy of Ami Pro. I was using some DOS program on my 8088 for word processing my senior year in high school but I fell in love with Ami Pro. When I got my 486 SX 25 Packard Bell ($250 new from Sears on closeout) that program made its home there as well.

I think as long as the software does what you want, still works on whatever OS you are running, who says you need to upgrade? I'm thinking of reinstalling Office XP onve I find my disc (got Small Business and Pro when a company I worked for closed. They gave me the office software and licenses).

#9 troff OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 24, 2018 8:56 PM

I still use my old '96 IBM Power Workstation just because it's' cool to run emulation on a vintage 1996 ($150,000 retail in '96) workstation .  I have the latest Mozilla Firefox , latest VICE, DOOM, Quake, an old Mac OS 9 emulator and an old Sega emulator.  I switched from AIX to Linux just a few years back because the last AIX version supported was ancient.  And it was a real chore to rebuild ssh/ssl/samba with all the security issues and well many other packages that should be upgraded and patched but require LOTS of config code changes as the old AIX version and xlc and gcc compilers are not well supported with modern open source software.  I keep it as I ported open source software to AIX many years ago so I'm a bit of an expert at that but it is lots of work regardless of how good one is at it.

 

Occasionally I still boot up the old AIX OS with Xwindows/mwm and play Sonic , DOOM, Quake, Lemmings on MacOS 9 emulator, and VICE (C64 Ghostbusters!) all at the same time in their own window.  It's a bit difficult to play more one at a time but others can all be in the background or loading. tThe workstation has a slow processor by today's standards but a huge amount of memory and memory bandwidth for '96.  It has 2GB of memory which even by modern standards is not really bad amount of memory for well designed Unix OS. I think it's just cool.  

 

That is very cool.  I love that you have an old IBM Power system still performing well for you today.



#10 thetick1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 24, 2018 10:38 PM

Can we see some pictures of this coal-burning monster?

 

The box shown below I have is a '96 hardware prototype from the lab so it is in the older generation case.  What's  nice about the prototype is you have the upgraded processor board, the high end chipset, fully populated IO cards and maximum memory configuration (2Gig).  It also has the optional 24-bit color video card (had 24-bit color first back in '93 from previous design!).  My manager let me keep the prototype after the project was completed.

 

rs6k32h.front.jpg

 

The actual product IBM RS/6000 43P just looked like a beefed up PC and used the lowend chip set with only 768M memory max ...see below for up close picture.  I don't think case is as cool as there is no key hanging from the front , but is on the side.  They both have an old BCD calculator like red server status display for diagnostics.

 

rs6ke.frontopen.jpg

 

 

And finally the old beast, RS/6000 590 , I had as my first workstation in early and mid 90's which I regrettably never owned one personally.  

See the pictures at my post here on the "Sexiest old computer"  


Edited by thetick1, Sat Feb 24, 2018 11:04 PM.


#11 MrMaddog OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 24, 2018 11:56 PM

Can we see some pictures of this coal-burning monster?

 

Hell, I'd love to see a screenshot of his desktop with Mac OS 9 & Sonic The Hedgehog running at same time. :)

 

In the 90's, I love the idea of an OS with many programs & games running at once in their own 3D looking windows.  Closest I got to that was running GNOME/WindowMaker in Red Hat Linux...



#12 MrMaddog OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Feb 25, 2018 12:01 AM

I'm not surprise people still want to want to run DOS based word processors instead of MS Word, even George R.R. Martin does it.  (Me though, I can't give up using a GUI...)

 

There's something called VDOS Plus (http://www.vdosplus.org/) that not only lets you run DOS applications on modern PC's but also lets you use the Windows clipboard and make print outs which makes the old WP's even more useful.  DOSbox is more useful for games....



#13 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Feb 25, 2018 8:12 AM

I'm not surprise people still want to want to run DOS based word processors instead of MS Word, even George R.R. Martin does it.  (Me though, I can't give up using a GUI...)

 

There's something called VDOS Plus (http://www.vdosplus.org/) that not only lets you run DOS applications on modern PC's but also lets you use the Windows clipboard and make print outs which makes the old WP's even more useful.  DOSbox is more useful for games....

 

I still use a variant of TI-Writer on a 35 year old TI-99/4A from time to time.  If I need to do anything fancy formatting-wise, only then will I send it to the PC for insertion into a Word document.

 

Thanks for the link, I'll try to check it out later this evening.



#14 jhd OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Feb 26, 2018 1:02 PM



I think as long as the software does what you want, still works on whatever OS you are running, who says you need to upgrade?

 

Agreed! The only problem that arises with older versions is file portability. If I bring something from work to home, I need to make sure that I save it in the correct (older) file format. Of course it is the very same issue with Open Office (that I use on my laptop).

 

 

I'm thinking of reinstalling Office XP once I find my disc (got Small Business and Pro when a company I worked for closed. They gave me the office software and licenses).

 

In about 1990, a failing small business in my neighbourhood held a "garage sale" to dispose of their assets shortly before their creditors arrived with a seizure order. I recall buying the then current version of Lotus 1-2-3 and probably some other business software (original disks and documentation) for $20. I was in Business School at the time, and it was great to finally have current software at home.



#15 OLD CS1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:16 PM

WordPerfect 4.2 on the Amiga got me through my college A.A.  (GEOS v2.0 and GEOS 128 held the reigns before then.)  It still works and is a viable word processor for many tasks.



#16 Atari_Warlord OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Feb 26, 2018 3:24 PM

Although I had to switch to Word because of work, I still miss the ease of using WordPerfect.  I transitioned pretty well from Lotus & Quattro Pro to Excel, but still hate how difficult Word makes everything.



#17 digdugnate ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 8, 2018 10:11 AM

I still have a soft spot for Lotus 1-2-3.  My dad used it for work, and I used it to catalog games and baseball cards ;)



#18 pacman000 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 9, 2018 1:28 PM

I do a lot of writing on Notepad. Sure, it may not technically be old, since they've ported it to the latest versions of Windows, but the user side hasn't changed much in 20 years.

#19 OLD CS1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 9, 2018 2:23 PM

Visual Edlin :)



#20 thetick1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 9, 2018 3:56 PM

I use Notepad++ in Windows and good old vi on Linux or Unix but not when I do any complex scripting.

 

For scripting I still use a proprietary cursors X11 based UNIX text editor from 1990 that I used extensively back then.  I also ported it to new OS releases over the years.  Technically I probably should not use it as the source is still copyrighted by my old employer.  Anyway  I learned all the shortcuts, macro tricks, language highlighting decades ago.  I tried to use a modern text editor for scripting but it was too painful.   I have compiled it for modern Linux and also have an old Win32 port of it from '95 that works fine on Windows 7 and Windows 10.  I'm still friends with the current maintainer and well I asked him to open source it.  He just laughed and said too much legal work.  He said just use it and don't distribute it.


Edited by thetick1, Fri Mar 9, 2018 4:00 PM.


#21 troff OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 9, 2018 8:40 PM

I'm still a big fan of vi, too.  I always have a copy of vim installed on my Windows machines.  Notepad is nice in that it's always there and always works, but that's about it.

 

I always thought it would be neat if someone took Notepad, added line numbers and added in edlin line commands - i.e. Visual Edlin!  It looks like someone has actually done that for Visual Studio Code?



#22 Keatah ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 9, 2018 9:09 PM

I continue to use old PaintShop Pro from the 486 and shareware days. Perfect for annotating and cropping images. I also conduct business on Office 2003. And we continue to use standard-issue Notepad.

When it comes to the basics, minus all the glitz and crap, it's quite amusing that old hardware or software is surprisingly useful.

Edited by Keatah, Fri Mar 9, 2018 9:19 PM.


#23 eightbit OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 9, 2018 9:35 PM

Partition Magic v7.0 was VERY useful for me today...but then again I needed it to split a hard drive on a machine running Windows 98 FE :)



#24 thetick1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 9, 2018 10:13 PM

Partition Magic v7.0 was VERY useful for me today...but then again I needed it to split a hard drive on a machine running Windows 98 FE :)

 

Oh Partition Magic was great when I had to worry about multi-booting OSes.  I have an old PC that booted about 20 different OSes. (Windows 98 SE, Windows NT 4, various OS/2 version of 1.X, 2.X 3.X and 4.X, BeOS, Zeta, Haiku OS, Open Solaris, Xenix, AIX 1.3, FreeDOS (for DOS games), MS DOS 5.0 (for really picky DOS games)  DOS 4/Windows 3.1 just for fun,  DOS3.3/DESQview,  QNX, VXWorks, and countless Linux distros.  The hard drive crashed a while back and I lost all the contents as it was just a toy to try new OSes.  Now I can have them all on VMs and have no need for Partition Magic but it was a great tool for multi-booting.


Edited by thetick1, Fri Mar 9, 2018 10:21 PM.


#25 NE146 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 9, 2018 10:15 PM

I use Paint Shop Pro 7 and install it on any new box I build. Also an old freeware version of spacemonger (all 212kb of it :lol:) I still prefer over more advanced disk space visualizers. Heck I'll attach it here if anyone wants. :P Please note this is the old Freeware version before it became horrible horrible bloatware. 

Attached Files


Edited by NE146, Fri Mar 9, 2018 10:17 PM.





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