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A Song of DOS and WordStar (nevalalee.wordpress.com)
27 points by smacktoward on May 12, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 13 comments

Emacs, of course, has a wordstar mode that can be activated with M-x wordstar-mode for those of you who're curious enough to try it out.

The copyright for that file dates back to 1991, back when Wordstar was still relevant. Like BRIEF and WordPerfect they have gone the way of the dodo.

I still remember having to use WordPerfect back in the day; but without the little cardboard printout you stuck to the keyboard's F-row it was almost impossible to use.

And one of the key features the first versions of Microsoft Word for Windows offered was support for WordPerfect keymappings, to make it easy for WordPerfect users to switch.

Are they still in there, I wonder? I doubt many people use them today, but it's not hard to imagine them tucked away in a menu somewhere, a forgotten island of once-important code...

That might convince me to finally switch from vi. Wordstar was one of the first programs I used and the similar keyboard shortcuts used by Borland probably didn't hurt when I started programming. I'm sure all that muscle memory is long forgotten by now... ^k^b, ^k^k. I vaguely remember that as how to define a selection block, but I'm not sure I got it right.

There's nothing stopping you from customizing Emacs to do what you like with keybindings. You can use either BRIEF or WordStar as a jumping off point.

It's not dead. WordPerfect Office X7 came out last month. I believe it is still virtually required at law offices.

There is a redone BRIEF. It has subtle pieces missing.


BRIEF macros were the original scripting language for DOS.

Joe's Own Editor still mimics WordStar for those whose fingers never re-learned: http://joe-editor.sourceforge.net/

This has been known by GRRM fans for quite some time. It's funny what bits of trivia become relevant again as the show finds new audiences.

The reality is, of course, that WordStar doesn't do anything special that there's not a modern replacement for. With the wide variety of software out there available to write documents, I'm sure that there's something that would word as well or better.

But the thing is, GRRM isn't interested in finding a replacement. He knows what works for him. And that's fine.

Also I guess we would want him to write instead of spending his time getting used to other tools.

A friend of mine is a published author who wrote his books on a cramped 9" netbook during his daily commute on the train.

It's not about the tool, it's about the author.

Seems like DOS running in a VM might be a better choice, so that you could run it on a machine with auto-backups.

I was wondering how old his disk drive had to be.

Edit: "To all of you worried about my backing up my fiction. I write on a DOS machine that is physically separate from my Windows machine and has no connection to the internet. It cannot get a virus. Assuming someone was writing viruses for WordStar 4.0, which I think unlikely. It also has a built in mirrored drive, so everything I write is automatically copied to two hard drives. I back up frequently to floppy disks, less frequently to CD/ROM, every blue moon to a Zip drive. So I think I am pretty well backed up. The one vulnerability I have is that all these backups share the same physical location, so if my house burned down, I'd be screwed. I have looked into offsite backup systems, yes, but unfortunately none of them will work with DOS/ WordStar. (And no, don't ask, I'm not going to send any of you a disk for "safekeeping," I'm on to that trick)."


Someone should teach him about encryption, then he can encrypt stuff, back it up to many optical media, and send copies to his editor and publisher and lawyer and maybe keep one in a bank.

That's a sub optimal solution but it's better tuan what he's got now.

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