One in particular stood out to me: The Write Stuff, published by Busy Bee Software out of Arizona. After searching for nearly a year I acquired the C64 version made in 1987, which is an exceptionally good 40-column program. It comes with an attractive, tidy and very thick manual and was sold in a ziplock baggie. Yep.
They also proudly called the software "USERWARE. Not copy protected." They wanted you to be able to afford it and duplicate it for safe keeping. Imagine that?
More features worth noting:
- It was written 100% in machine language (ML). Thus it's a very small program (25K), yet very fast a quite deep.
- It is both Menu and Command driven, and there are a ton of commands.
- Search and Replace
- Dvorak/Keyboard toggle
- User definable screen fonts and colors
- Supports RAM expanders (1764)
- Bold, italics, underline, sub-script, super-script, condensed text
- Dual drives
- User defined macros
- BB Menu Maker, to create custom disk menus
It also included an extra program called BB Talker, which (drum roll) would use SAM to dictate your documents to you, or even the Menu selections and help screens. Totally incredible to have that built-in.
And get this: in the back of the 58-paged manual, Busy Bee Software even offered a Laser Printing Service where you could ship them your files and they would use a laser printer - starting in January 31, 1988 - to print your documents and mail them back to you. In fact, the manual's proofs were made using that very same service.
Busy Bee outdid themselves later that year and into 1989.
After a few more years of searching, this week I finally acquired an original and complete copy of The Write Stuff for Commodore 128.
Yes, Busy Bee created and published a stand-alone C128 version of The Write Stuff (V1 and V2) that was written specifically for the C128. And Boy Howdy did they go all-in. This was the version of the program I always wanted in original form. And sadly it is f***king hard to find, folks. But holy smokes now that I finally have it, it was worth the grueling wait.
Naturally, the 128 version will auto-boot into 80-column mode. It supports native C128 40 and 80 column modes, but if you have 80-col capabilities it fires right up in all that bountiful glory. In fact the 80-col program is the front side of the disk, while the back side is 40-col. I love how the 40-col version was sent to the back!
It supports using extra RAM it finds in attached REU's and also includes a large spell-checker called BB Speller. It can spell-check a 1-3 paged document in 3-9 seconds when using a RAM expander; with a 1581 it would take 18-45 seconds; 25-75 seconds with a stock 1541 while using a Fastload cartridge; 80 seconds to 3.5 minutes with a stock 1541. It also has spell correction features, a 78,000 word dictionary and support up to 5 drives. Five!? From a feature standpoint, not many Word Processors hold a candle next to The Write Stuff for C128 computers, or any 8-bit machines for that matter. In fact, other than the UI the feature set rivals many early 16-bit word processors, too.
To keep up with the leading 8-bit Commodore tech of the day, Busy Bee supposedly went so far as to create a CMD hard drive installable version, but I've never actually seen that one.
I know it sounds strange to be so excited about a thing like a word processor, but I've a bit of a history with this kind of thing.
One last thing worth noting. The edit view where you do your typing is entirely different than the view where you preview the styling. This might be a little hard for some to wrap their heads around, so I captured a short video where you can see the two modes in action. The black screen is the edit screen (which you can completely customize), and the white screen is the preview screen with formatted text. Just look at that 80-column glory. And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go easily copy my disks!