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Tandy Deskmate - was it really useful?

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Tandy Deskmate has an interesting history. I like the text-based version that came with the Tandy 1000. Deskmate 3 was apparently much more popular, with a graphical interface, upgraded applications, and the ability to host other programs.

Do/did people really use Deskmate? Or was it mostly a bullet point to drive sales?

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I used it.  My first PC compatible computer was a Tandy 1000 RL - replacing a Commodore 128.  But when I bought it, I didn't have any software - certainly not word processing software.  So the built in Text application was very useful to me.  That the spelling checker was built into ROM made it much faster than what I had used in the past with the Commodore.

 

I also had an ACT preparation program that used a runtime version of DeskMate.

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I had a new EX and later a new SL.  Deskmate wasn't a selling point for me and I never made much use out of either.

I think I paid $10 for a word processor with spellcheck at Egghead and that's what I used for all my school work.  Deskmate's text for my EX seemed cheesy in comparison.

A GUI taking up system resources, even when upgraded to 640K and 2 floppy drives, was more of a novelty.  It was pointless trying to launch other DOS programs through its file system.  Hell, I even avoided MS Windows up until Me.

 

The SL version did have slick music and sound sampling programs that took advantage of the built in DAC.  I did use that quite a bit.  Deskmate and DOS were also built into ROM and could instantly boot to C:\ in the blink of an eye.  When I installed my hard drive, that did away with the ROM containing Deskmate, but iirc I could hold a certain key during boot to disable the hard drive and start off the ROM again.

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I used DeskMate 3 for years on my 1000HX. It worked well enough for the things that I wanted to do with it.

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Deskmate wasn't necessarily the best, but it was a competent GUI in its own right and was a (somewhat successful) selling point for 1000.

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Deskmate was the very first GUI that I ever experienced. My 1000 SL did not come with a mouse, but I used a joystick from my Coco instead. 

 

I used the word processor quite a bit until I became more comfortable with WordPerfect. It lacked features, but it was very easy to use.

 

I also used the Terminal Emulator until I was able to obtain something better. 

 

I don't recall using any of the other applications, though I may have briefly experimented with the database.   

 

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On 9/21/2021 at 1:49 AM, Casey said:

I used it.  My first PC compatible computer was a Tandy 1000 RL - replacing a Commodore 128.

Interesting. Why did you prefer it to an Amiga?

 

(I did a lot of wordprocessing on my Amiga 500 with 1 MB RAM (and a second floppy drive would have been useful) even until 1994, and it worked alright. The only bad thing about it was the lack of an automatic footnote function (that's standard today).)

Edited by Pokeypy

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I actually would have loved to have had an Amiga, but by the time I bought my first PC (1992), everyone I knew had a PC and every computer I used at school was also a PC, so that's why I went that direction.

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On 9/25/2021 at 7:24 PM, Pokeypy said:

Interesting. Why did you prefer it to an Amiga?

Just to clarify, a Commodore 128 (C128) is not an Amiga.  However, the C128 did have a GUI called GEOS.  While GEOS was good for its time, Deskmate seemed to be a little bit more fleshed out. 

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5 hours ago, Hwlngmad said:

Just to clarify, a Commodore 128 (C128) is not an Amiga.

Of course not. Casey said, he bought a Tandy 1000 RL after he had a Commodore 128.

And my question was, why didn't he upgrade from the Commodore 128 to the (Commodore) Amiga?

 

As the Amiga was also suitable for running productivity software such as wordprocessors, as I had found out. At the time, it was a good option for that.

In the early 90s (that is several years after the Tandy 1000), other people bought a 286 PC for that, and I found, my old 1987 Amiga 500 could accomplish the task just as well. Or even better, considering the risk of suffering from a virus was relatively low on a non-harddisk machine.

The C64 hadn't been that good for wordprocessing, because of its not-so-great keyboard, its lack of 80 characters per line, its slow processor (just 1 MHz) and its low memory. And its ridiculously slow floppy drive speed. :)

Commodore gave the C128 a better keyboard, a bit more memory and speed, and a special productivity mode with 80 characters per line. So the C128 was Commodore's first home computer, that could also be regarded as a business machine. (Neglecting the unfortunate Plus/4 and Commodore's PCs).

The Amiga could do all that too (80 cpl, suitable keyboard, decent memory and speed), and more.

Edited by Pokeypy

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11 minutes ago, Pokeypy said:

Of course not. Casey said, he bought a Tandy 1000 RL after he had a Commodore 128.

And my question was, why didn't he upgrade from the Commodore 128 to the (Commodore) Amiga?

 

As the Amiga was also suitable for running productivity software such as wordprocessors, as I had found out. At the time, it was a good option for that.

In the early 90s, other people bought a 286 PC for that, and I found, my old 1987 Amiga 500 could accomplish the task just as well. Or even better, considering the risk of suffering from a virus was relatively low on a non-harddisk machine.

Okay.  I guess I didn't understand the chain of the conversation.  My bad.

 

Also, yeah, the Amiga (and ST for that matter) were capable productivity machines up until the early 1990s, that's for sure.  However, when 386 (and really 486 machines) became common along with Windows 3.0 (and more-so with 3.1 and 3.11) all other competitors succumbed to PC domination.

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We had both an EX and an HX.  We mostly used DeskMate for word processing, if memory serves me.  For spreadsheeting we used Lotus 1-2-3. :)

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