By Nico Meyer
April 30, 2020
Do you remember when you were first learning to write on a computer? Or have you ever been amazed at how easy it is to use Word today? Whatever the case may be, you have WordStar to thank for it.
WordStar was the first commercially successful word processing software released by Micropro in 1979. WordStar was co-created in 1978 by businessman Seymour Rubinstien and engineer and programmer Rob Barnaby. They found the niche to compliment the portable computers that were being released at the time: a work from home software which “provided a reason for someone coming into a computer store to buy a machine (because) WordStar…made the computer functional and useful immediately.” 1 .
WordStar made it easy to write papers, documents, or letters and print them from any location. This, however, is not what made WordStar so great. Unlike all previous word processors, WordStar was able to show on screen the exact format of what would be printed. This saved time and money as one did not have to re-print and re-format in order to create a proper paper. Alongside this perk featured the ability to personalize your document. There were different word sizes, line spacings, and in-text characters that made it easy to make your own.
WordStar was not only practical but very easy to learn. The whole system and keyboard is very fluid and comparable to today's Microsoft Word. You are able to save and re-edit files for later use, as well as name the documents so they never get mixed up.
WordStar was ahead of its time and many of the controls and customizations are still being used in today’s word-processing softwares.
Thomas Bergin, "The Origins of Word Processing Software for Personal Computers: 1976-1985," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing (December 2006), https://doi.org/10.1109/MAHC.2006.76