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Fast Reference Guide to WordStar

by Robert C. Baker

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When I became a WordStar user in the 1980s, this was my handy reference manual that quickly brought me up to speed on WordSar commands and syntax.

WordStar was originally developed for CP/M in 1978. It was the most feature-rich and easy-to-use word processor available for this operating system, and became a de facto standard. The 3.0 version of WordStar for DOS was released in April 1982.

Those were the days before WIMP (Windows, Icons, Mouse, Pull-down menus). We did everything from the keyboard. In fact, my fingers never had to leave the "home keys" to use the familiar "WordStar diamond" cluster of commands. WordStar commands became second nature to me.

Those were also the days of floppy disk drives. WordStar users soon learned they could make the floppy disk version of WordStar run dramatically faster by using the ability of DOS to create a "RAM disk" in memory, and copy the WordStar program files into it. WordStar would still access the RAM disk repeatedly, but the far faster access of the RAM drive compared to a floppy disk yielded a substantial speed improvement. We had to remember to copy our documents from RAM disk to floppy disk before turning off or rebooting our computers.

WordStar's ability to use a "non-document" mode to create text files without formatting made it popular among programmers for writing code. Two decades later, I still use both a DOS-based text editor and a Windows-based programmer's editor that use WordStar commands and syntax. ( )
  MrJack | Oct 6, 2008 |
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