Jump to content
doug0909

Best Classic Computer for Word Processing TODAY

Recommended Posts

I guess for a full dose of charm with a good keyboard and sharp display, as long as you can avoid the distractions, you could stick an Apple II pi card in a IIe, and run Wordperfect for DOS through Linux on a black and green monitor using the IIe keyboard and mouse. Nobody browses the web in monochrome... But function keys could be a pain... 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, doug0909 said:

I'm saddened that nobody is telling me how doable Apple or Commodore GEOS would be with the right rig, accelerators and extra ram and hard drive, or that there were other 8 bit systems which did 80 column display better than the Apple II...

I got into word processing on the Apple II+ with AppleWriter, 2 drives, and 64K of memory. It worked well. I got a videx 80-column card in due time, along with a lowercase and shift-key mod too. Had that for a couple of years. At the tail end of using the Apple II+ I got a Sider 10MB HDD, awesome sauce!

 

Then I got into an Apple //e with 64K. Soon I got another 64K and 80-columns. , loved the new keyboard. I grew into using AppleWorks and ProTerm. But I didn't always need all of AppleWorks' capability, so I mainly stuck with the editor in ProTerm for personal stuff. I also used the 10MB Sider, had some of it set up for ProDos. Later I upgraded to 2MB via a RamWorks card. Loved all of it.

 

The HDD and larger RAM somewhat precluded the need for an accelerator. It was no big deal to wait a few seconds to load something anyways. Not that an accelerator would speed that up. A RAMDISK and HDD run about the same speed because of bus speed limitations.

 

6 hours ago, doug0909 said:

Was also thinking that some 16 bits might have used the extra power for Word Processors more focused on speed and crisp display, WYSIWYG or not.  Interesting about how great that IBM keyboard was though... 

The first MAC was crisp and snappy. Much like a //e. A lot of the bit-mapping was done in software and there weren't many (if any) functions handed off to custom chips. Total opposite of the slushy Amiga feel.

 

The IBM Hercules monochrome modes and other text modes were good. And those modes carried well into the CGA/EGA/VGA/SVGA times and further. They were snappy, fast, unencumbered, and didn't really do custom chips. Not in the sense that any specialized chips were embedded in the architecture.

 

Put it this way, a standard Cirrus Logic GD-5422 SVGA chip is custom in and of itself. But it does all the discrete and original modes of the cards that came before it. And in the same way. It hangs off the bus like any other PC graphics chip/board. It is custom in that it combines many other chips'

 

It is "not custom" in that it is not embedded permanently into the architecture. It is "not custom" in that millions upon millions were made and could fit into any PC of the era.

 

So many ways to look at it. So many ways to split hairs on the topic. So many angles of semantics.

 

The Apple II and PC were apt at pushing text around because of the simplicity of their circuitry. The PC is 16-bit and was the best 16-bit word processor on the market. It's where many pro-level packages were developed. And that is good enough for me.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's many many angles on how to make a distraction-free writing environment. And the choice of hardware and software is but only one thing to consider. IMHO the room should be soft-lit, and have rugs on the walls and no hardwood floors, to prevent sensory distraction and overload. No echoes, no bright reflections. Tea and snacks. A soft white noise (NCC 1701D Ambient Engine). Fresh air. Cozy cushions. Space heater or fireplace. Flannel shirt. All of this comes together to make for a thoughtful area.

 

Or just going out on the lakeside veranda with a laptop and Notepad works equally well on good weather days.

 

One does not have to avail oneself of all the options and distractions. Just.. don't.. use.. them..!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, doug0909 said:

 Was also thinking that some 16 bits might have used the extra power for Word Processors more focused on speed and crisp display, WYSIWYG or not.  

To be fair, a couple (several?) of us mentioned the early Mac would make a great choice... ;-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Keatah said:

IMHO the room should be soft-lit, and have rugs on the walls and no hardwood floors, to prevent sensory distraction and overload. No echoes, no bright reflections. Tea and snacks. A soft white noise (NCC 1701D Ambient Engine).

Hell No!  For "truly inspired writing", you need to listen to music, I've found these four INSTRUMENTAL tunes to be quite soothing and productive...

 

#1

 

#2

 

#3

 

#4

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/24/2020 at 1:38 PM, Arnuphis said:

Professional Write looks great. No bloat., Just functionality. 

My Dad used to use Professional Write back in the day.  Very good word processor.

 

(Does anyone remember when publishers offered "working models" of their software?  These were trial versions with certain key features disabled.  I remember ordering a working model of a new version of Professional Write for DOS via mail order, probably around 1990.  I think it shipped on two recycled 5.25-inch floppy disks, and if I remember correctly, it couldn't save files.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, MrMaddog said:

Stay away from anything thast requires GDOS, it's a real PITA to setup and bitmap fonts look real ugly in printouts...

Isn't the point of GDOS to give scalable fonts for true WYSIWYG?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, jaybird3rd said:

(Does anyone remember when publishers offered "working models" of their software?  These were trial versions with certain key features disabled.  I remember ordering a working model of a new version of Professional Write for DOS via mail order, probably around 1990.  I think it shipped on two recycled 5.25-inch floppy disks, and if I remember correctly, it couldn't save files.)

 

The only trial software that I ever used was dBase III -- it was fully-featured, except for a limit on the number of records -- but I do remember seeing an advertisement for a demo word processor with the save feature removed. If memory serves, it was for the TRS-80. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/24/2020 at 8:50 PM, doug0909 said:

Thanks for the interesting discussion, I'll take a look at some of the suggestions. I had never even heard of pro write. I'm saddened that nobody is telling me how doable Apple or Commodore GEOS would be with the right rig, accelerators and extra ram and hard drive, or that there were other 8 bit systems which did 80 column display better than the Apple II... Was also thinking that some 16 bits might have used the extra power for Word Processors more focused on speed and crisp display, WYSIWYG or not.  Interesting about how great that IBM keyboard was though... 

I never had the hardware for it, but a Commodore 128 with GEOS 128, an REU and a 1571 and/or 1581 drive would probably make for a very good classic word processing system.  I think GEOS 2.0 includes a spelling checker also but maybe not a thesaurus.  Tricky would be exchanging the files with a more modern computer because of the special GEOS file format.  I’m not sure GEOS has a way to save a file in a plain ASCII format, but maybe there is a converter somewhere.  

 

Back in the day I had a 128, but did not have an 80-column monitor, so I always just used SpeedScript from COMPUTE! in 64 mode for my word processing needs.  A very fast no frills (and very cheap) word processor.  I think there was a spelling checker released to work with it, but not sure about that.  I also used Word Writer 5 for the 64 which came with a spelling checker as well as an 80-column print preview mode even on the 64.  Both were capable of saving out files in ASCII format, though at least for SpeedScript, that isn’t the default.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/23/2020 at 11:38 AM, Hwlngmad said:

A classic Mac like the ones fimbulvetr mentioned would be good choices.  Others options could include a TRS-80 Model III or IV or a PC-DOS machine running Word Perfect (5.1 being one of the best verisons).  Those are just my opinions, but lots of options out there for sure.

Wordperfect 5.1 dos was excellent. Easy to use menu interface; mouse suppprt, open multiple files with copy and paste support; graphical page preview.  No need for icons or windows, runs on an 8088 PC.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By far my favorite old computer for Word Processing is the Apple //c 

 

- Silent operation except when loading and saving files

- Sharp 80 column monochrome display

- Excellent ALPS mechanical keyboard

- Relatively compact

- Nice selection of Word Processors

 

An old PC or Mac would be better for ease of file exchange using floppies, but if you run them with period correct hard drives and fans they will be noisy!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This really interests me because I am a professor who writes. I also have a C128 set-up and a CoCo3, and these would be fun to use for articles and books. How would I take the written text and get it converted to a modern Word document?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My personal opinion as someone who writes for a living, has been using computers since the early 80s, and still collects all kinds of vintage computers, is that you should never use a vintage computer for anything important writing-wise. Modern solutions are practically bulletproof, with no real chance of losing work, and there are plenty of distraction-free software-based and hardware-based solutions should you need something like that for your particular working style.

 

Besides reliability of vintage systems (even when they were in their prime) - which is absolutely a big deal - the biggest downside is the aforementioned transfer of said work to something usable by a modern platform, either for archiving or re-use in some way. Again, if it's just for the distraction-free aspects, it's just not worth the hassle as there are plenty of modern ways to accomplish that same goal without the other downsides. Of course, many writers can have particular attachments to certain writing implements, environments, etc., so if a quaint vintage computing setup inspires you to actually write, well, that can't be discounted either. Good, prolific output is the ultimate goal after all, and if that happens to have some downsides associated with it because of what inspires you to accomplish that, so be it.

 

For me, the most fun vintage computers to work on that have a "special" feel are the all-in-ones, like the Tandy Model III/4, various CP/M or hybrid machines like the KayPro II or Zenith Z-100, etc. They generally have good to great keyboards and good quality screens for the era. Of course, these are tough to maintain and do take up a lot of desk space. Of all the vintage computers I've used and owned, outside of the aforementioned systems and various older IBM PCs and select compatibles, I've found the best overall keyboards are generally found in the Apple II series, right through to the IIGS.

 

Again, though, while I love to dabble in various old computers - that in itself is a hobby for me - I would never trade my modern options for anything classifiable as real work or something otherwise important to me. Been there, done that, and been burned by it too many times. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/24/2020 at 8:50 PM, doug0909 said:

I'm saddened that nobody is telling me how doable Apple or Commodore GEOS would be with the right rig, accelerators and extra ram and hard drive, or that there were other 8 bit systems which did 80 column display better than the Apple II... 

With the SuperCPU 128, CMD RAMLink with 16 megs of RAM, and CMD Hard Drive, GEOS flies!  However, I much prefer Wheels (which still flies and is much more compatible with different drives and RAM expansions!).  And GEOWrite 128 (of course, in 80-columns) and GeoPublish (though a 40-column desktop publishing app) print out great with a Postscript-capable printer.

For a more modern set-up, there is the Ultimate 64 with its 48 MHz. Turbo Mode, and it still can run GEOS/Wheels (but only the C64 versions of those apps).  I haven't bought the U64's optional user port adapter yet, so I can't connect it to a Postscript-capable printer.  However, the U64 will print to a file.

 

Truly,

Robert Bernardo

Fresno Commodore User Group - http://www.dickestel.com/fcug.htm

Southern California Commodore & Amiga Network - http://www.portcommodore.com/sccan

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/26/2020 at 11:07 AM, Casey said:

Back in the day I had a 128, but did not have an 80-column monitor, so I always just used SpeedScript from COMPUTE! in 64 mode for my word processing needs.  A very fast no frills (and very cheap) word processor.  I think there was a spelling checker released to work with it, but not sure about that.

Heh, for awhile I didn't have an 80-column monitor but used a cable that tapped the composite signal coming out of the C128's RGB port.  That gave me 80 columns but only in monochrome.  As for Speedscript, there was also Speedscript 128, and yes, a spell checker did come out for Speedscript.

 

Truly,

Robert Bernardo

Fresno Commodore User Group - http://www.dickestel.com/fcug.htm

Southern California Commodore & Amiga Network - http://www.portcommodore.com/sccan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On December 4, 2020 at 6:32 PM, RangerG said:

This really interests me because I am a professor who writes. I also have a C128 set-up and a CoCo3, and these would be fun to use for articles and books. How would I take the written text and get it converted to a modern Word document?

You just might have two of the worst computers to transfer files to and from modern systems. Maybe it's just because I've never tried although I own a c128 and a CoCo 2, but most likely every word processor would be different. If the wp of your choice saves you document in raw ascii you could use a device such as an SD2IEC for your Commodore to transfer the file to your modern PC and simply change whatever file format it was to .txt. Or with the C128 making use of its CP/M compatibility might make your life easier, although I'm not sure if SD2IEC can handle CP/M disks like a real 1571 floppy drive can.

Edited by bluejay
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...