THREE WORD PROCESSORS:
A User Manual Of Reviews
Senior Contributing Editor for Commodore Products
I am presenting an overview of 3 word processors for the PET. In addition I am attempting a comparative evaluation. This is extremely difficult since they all do things differently. I am trying to show what each can do as well as what it doesn't do. You decide what you need and can afford, but please don't rely completely on this set of articles. Contact each company for their information and read it carefully.
What are some areas of major difference between the 3 word processors presented in this issue? One difference is how they are programmed. Commodore's is written completely in machine language. Machine language is much faster than Basic. Programma's and Connecticut Microcomputer's are written in BASIC. Therefore, you can change lines and modify each to suit your needs. This would include adding a section to save and load files on your disk, either Commodore's, Computhinks, or others.
Another major difference is how the word processor treats your text. Each is different. Connecticut Microcomputer's looks at your text as a series of consecutive lines. The lines can be moved, inserted, deleted & changed. Programma's looks at the text as a series of strings. These strings can be changed, have parts deleted or have more characters inserted, etc. Commodore's looks at your text as a series of characters. 23 lines of text are always displayed on the screen. It scrolls up & down as needed, while the cursor indicates your position within the text.
How about the manuals? Both Commodore and Connecticut Microcomputer provide good manuals with explanations of the various aspects of their programs. Programma's word processor is virtually self explanatory. It comes with a 1 page introduction. Further instructions are on the tape as a text file. Once you LOAD the program you INPUT the instructions from the tape. Other than explaining the use of 2 special function keys, instructions aren't needed, for the program asks for information when it's needed. It begins by asking what major function you wish to perform. If you are going to print your output it prompts you for information on margins, etc. In additions to their printed manual Commodore also includes their manual on the diskette following their word processor programs.
What about the price? Programm's is $19,95; Connecticut Microcomputer's is $29.50; and Commodores is $99.95. And how about a minimum system configuration needed to use the program? Both Programma's and Connecticut Microcomputer's work on the standard 8K PET with 1 cassette unit. A printer is not necessary since the finished text can be output on your screen. Commodores Word Processor II requires a 16K PET and at least 1 disk drive. The finished text can not be sent to the screen, so a printer is a necessity. However, you can compose your text without the printer.
|COMMODORE WORD PRO. II||PROGRAMMA by RICHTER||CONN.MICROCOMP.WPP|
|PET 8K (OLD)||(VER 1)||YES||VER 1|
|PET 16K-32K (NEW)||VER 2||YES||VER 2|
|RS232 OUTPUT TO PRINTER||YES||YES||YES|
|OUTPUT TO CBM PRINTER||YES||YES||YES|
|COMPUTHINK DISK FILE STORAGE||NO||NO*||NO*|
|CBM DISK FILE STORAGE||YES||YES||NO*|
|FINAL TEXT OUTPUT TO EITHER SCREEN OR PRINTER||NO||YES||YES|
|AUTO REPEAT KEYS||YES||NO*||NO*|
|CENTER TEXT (i.e. Headings)||YES||NO||YES|
|SHIFT FOR UPPER CASE||YES||YES||YES|
|ALL CAPS LOCKS||YES||YES*||NO|
|VARIABLE SPACING (Single or Double...)||YES||YES||YES|
|LINE SPACING CHANGEABLE WITHIN ONE FILE||NO||NO||YES|
|RIGHT JUSTIFY||YES||NO||VER 2|
|SCROLLING TEXT (up or down)||YES||NO||NO|
|VARIABLE LINE LENGHT (margins)||YES||YES||YES|
|VARY LINE LENGTH WITHIN ONE TEXT||YES||NO||YES|
|BASIC OR MACHINE LANGUAGE||ML||B||B|
|* Routine may be added by user.|
Each has its own advantages. Programma's is the simplest to operate. Connecticut Microcomputer's is most flexible in formatting your final output. It can print separate segments or the whole text. It can dynamically change its line length, spacing, etc. within the same text. Commodore's is enjoyable to use. You see your text move around; spaces open up for line insert, etc.
Next issue I will review more word processors, including Version 2 from Connecticut Microcomputer and 2 other versions from Commodore. Textcast will also be included, which is different from each of these covered this issue. TIS has a text editor which will be included and so will CURSOR's text editor. Computer Factory supposedly has a word processor, but I have not yet received a reply to my letter asking for information on it. Home Computer Center is supposed to release a word processor soon, hopefully in time to be included next issue. I ordered a word processor from England long ago, but haven't received it yet. If anyone has a word processor working on the PET, please contact me right away. I may even include a summary of CONTEXT as adapted for the PET from the Kilobaud article.
Send your comments, ideas, and suggestions directly to: Len Lindsay, 1929 Northport Dr., Room 6, Madison, WI 53704. I hope to hear from you. Since I get a lot of mail, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope if you would like a reply.