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Your fav killer-app other than a game?

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Many of us were impressed and even went as far as to purchase a specific machine because of a certain special gotta-have-it game. But what about any non-game software - such as word processors, terminals, utilities, scientific stuff, educational stuff..? What were your most favorite non-game killer-apps?

 

Some type-in BASIC programs that drew geometrical designs and Bessel plots. This was endlessly fascinating and after I got my Apple II I immediately learned how to do such stuff. It was utterly thrilling to imagine a shape then make it come to life. A magical moment was watching the computer draw shapes and designs hidden in nature's language. Fun and discovery beyond belief. What else was out there? (I would later discover fractals via Fractint on the PC)

 

Besides that, there was Flight Simulator, A2-FS1. It was all wireframe graphics. But me and my buddies had never seen anything like it. Great fun flying off-grid and then trying to make it back without running out of gas. Occasionally we'd be treated to 'corrupted' graphic artifacts. Would we fall off the edge of the atmosphere? Or get sucked into something? It was the second proggie that made the Apple II attractive.

 

Once I had the system for a while, things like ASCII Express came out. A terminal. A quite versatile terminal at that. It even had unattended file transfer features which were the basis of early pirate "boards" called AE Lines. I was (then) impressed at the variety of hardware it supported and the modes and configuration menu. It was like this huge virtual control panel on a communications system. It was even more exciting working with lowercase and more symbols when I got a lower-case chip and eventually the //e. Things like AE (TAC) Total Access Control gave us capabilities to have individual user names and files and stuff. Clock patches were big stink and all the rage too. Exciting times.

 

Pro-Term was also very good, with a very basic word processor/editor. Loved the variety of protocols like Y-Modem and Z-Modem and more. It used MouseText and all available memory on the //e. Unfortunately it came late in the game, just before BBS'es were winding down. It almost qualifies as a killer-app.

 

Next up is the venerable PrintShop and its various add-ons and graphics packs. What a novel idea. And it was likely every kid's introduction to desktop publishing. Productive. Fun. And you learned a new way of doing something every time you used it. The early concepts of how it all worked and how printers worked still prove useful today 40 years later.

 

Patches to DOS. David-DOS, Hyper-DOS, Pronto-DOS, Diversi-DOS, and more. Great fun and amazement at how software could speed up the hardware. The new commands. The new tricks. And learning how to mod DOS on our own. That was whole other side attraction.

 

There's more and I'll bring them up as the thread progresses.

 

 

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Flight Simulator is a game :)

 

ZX Spectrum: Copy Copy - guess what it did.

Amiga - Soundtracker

PC - Dos Navigator in the DOS days, now Total Commander. I can't imagine using Windows without it  (but I hardly ever use "windows" themselves).

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AdLib visual music composer on DOS. It's fun to play with.

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UCSD Pascal. Full IDE to make programming fun. Not so much a killer app for a computer but instead a prime impetus into buying floppy drives. 

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I've said that my reason for getting an ST computer was seeing a Psygnosis game, but the "other" reason was to have a telecommunication program for accessing the college's computer lab remotely.  Actually it was the first time I had a modem becuase I wasn't allowed to have one in high school cause my mom was afraid I run up the phone bill...but I said I would only make local calls so no CompuServe type stuff.  But while I was waiting for the school's VAX to actually support remote log ins, I called up local BBS's and even the very first dial up ISP (UNIX shell account) in the area.

 

My first terminal emulator was VanTerm for calling the ST based BBS's which used VT-52 emulation, then I moved to KM-Term for ANSI/VT-100 for the other BBS's & that ISP.  Eventually someone at the Users Group gave me STalker which was what I've used for many years till I got a PC.

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On the CoCo-can't say there was a killer app I really liked using. For my table top RPG stuff I wrote character generators in BASIC.

 

It was DOS that got me interested in things other than games. I used Professional Write for reports at the latter stages of high school. For my co-op work class I worked at a little software company that made software for some manufacturing companies in Wisconsin. There I learned Clarion Professional Developer and wrote some minor programs for in house use, like filling out airbills for FedEx without needing a typewriter then storing the addresses for later.

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I was going to also mention Visicalc but someone beat me to it.

 

The thing that has really blown me away tech-wise in the last 20 years or so is Google Street View.  I remember the first time I noticed Street View: I was trying to find a location I'd never been to, I think a doctor's office, and when I searched in Google Maps to figure out where I was going I noticed the Street View option. 

 

I think my jaw literally dropped when I could see what the building and the surrounding neighborhood looked like.  "Wow!  I can actually see where I'm going before I get there!"

 

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Well early early days around 90-92 I used to have those old SB Pro apps you'd waste hours on like Dr Sbaitso and Talking Parrot which you could get into some pretty funny stuff doing anything from dumb, crude, or circular logic(or lack there of) comments with them.  Also, not games, but the visuals of them... Future Crew Demos like Unreal and Second Reality to name a couple.

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The letter quality printer of the Coleco ADAM was pretty neat in its day.   I even used it for some college papers, but saving (took so long it) meant it was time to take a 10 minute break.  And one time I lost about 3 pages due to static electricity zapping my ADAM and losing all of my work!  At that point I wished I'd saved more often, and my mom came downstairs and began spraying Static Guard everywhere haha...I even had one teacher question it (at first).  He told us we had to use "A Computer" to Print Out our assignment.   Of course everyone else's papers were on Dot Matrix green or whatever and Mine looked so nice by comparison!  He said,  "No Typed papers!  It has to be from a word processor!"  To which I replied, "It is!  I have a Letter Quality printer!...Check out the margins!   You think I could to that on a Typewriter?"   "Oh!  Sorry!"..."It's very nice!"

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14 hours ago, ls650 said:

I was going to also mention Visicalc but someone beat me to it.

 

The thing that has really blown me away tech-wise in the last 20 years or so is Google Street View.  I remember the first time I noticed Street View: I was trying to find a location I'd never been to, I think a doctor's office, and when I searched in Google Maps to figure out where I was going I noticed the Street View option. 

 

I think my jaw literally dropped when I could see what the building and the surrounding neighborhood looked like.  "Wow!  I can actually see where I'm going before I get there!"

 

I def appreciate Google Maps on my phone for the same reason!  It (usually) makes my delivery driver job much easier.  And the voice command for it too!  It's not my Official Answer as it's not really Classic Computing...But that is definitely a non game killer app!

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moslo is great software for slowing a pc down when it's too fast.  I've been using the free version since I was a kid, and am absolutely shocked that it still available for purchase, and has gotten many new features since I last used it.  The "newest" (in this case 2006) slowdown method, specifically calls out its superiority at slowing down a pentium 3 running in pure dos mode--which happens to be exactly what I'm doing, so I may just buy it, as that's not available in the free version.

 

Otherwise winrar--after probably two decades of using the trial version (and maybe pirating it a few times), I finally bought the thing ;).

Pro tip: There's a one-time discount chance that comes up at the first launch after install.  I figured after improving my life for so long, it was totally worth it.

Edited by Reaperman
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DosShell on my dos 5.0 disk was a game changer when paired with a mouse. I had never used a GUI with my IBM machines, and it saved me so much time. 

 

Going back farther. The GEOS 128 2.0 "OS" was a huge leap forward from the standard Basic environment found on C64/128 systems. Loved using it and did so for far far too long.

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