Classic Computer Magazine Archive CREATIVE COMPUTING VOL. 9, NO. 6 / JUNE 1983 / PAGE 64

Gutenberg. (evaluation) Patricia D. Glenn.


I had seen The Gutenberg Word Processor demonstrated at one of the local computer stores, and decided that I had to have it. After all, who wouldn't want a program that allowed her to design her own fonts, print fraphics in with the text, write in multiple columns, do headers, footers, super- and subscripts, and a host of other things? I don't know who wouldn't, but I certainly did! So, I ordered the Apple version of Gutenberg grom Canada.

Within the week, Gutenberg was on my doorstep. Handsomely packaged in a slipcase and padded binder were three disks and the documentation. The documentation! It had been printed on a dot matrix printer and was beautiful. Right on the title page it said: "This manual was printed on a Centronics 739 printer. Input was generated using an Apple II personal computer. This manual was produced entirely using the Gutenberg Word Processor. Page make-up and positioning of text and headings was achieved with the Gutenberg composition print program. No "cut and paste' to position text was performed. All large headings were created with the Gutenberg paint program,'

I leafed through the manual. Oh, wow! Graphics! Boldface double size headings! Page numbers! Custom type fonts! Columns! Tables! I was thrilled.

Gutenberg comes with a tutorial disk, and after a closer look at the documentation I knew I would need it. Unfortunately, the documentation is not one of the strong points of this program. In fact, the documentation is probably the main factor that keeps Gutenberg from being the most useful word processor ever written.

The Documentation

Since the user's manual is the weakest link in what is probably destined to be a classic word processor, let's discuss it now and be done with it. The manual was written by the program author, John Wagner. Mr. Wagner makes certain assumptions about the qualifications of the reader and proceeds from there. These assumptions are not always valid.

While he gives detailed instructions for beginning to use the system, he does not tell you why you are doing things. This leaves you in the position of proceeding by rote with no understanding of the reasoning behind the process. To say that this is frustrating is an understatement. I must admit that learning to use Gutenberg from the documentation almost drove me wild.

The problem is not in the portion that explains editing. That is easily understood and easily implemented. In fact, editing with Gutenberg is a joy. The program is responsive and easy to use. I found the editing portion very easy to learn. My problems began when I went into the print portion of the program. With study and concentration and by working through the examples, Cutenberg can be learned, but the documentation offers very little help. After several days of practicing with the program, I suddenly understood what I was supposed to be doing. Others may not have this problem, but I do think it takes dedication to learn to use Gutenberg.

A redeeming feature of the documentation is that it is easy to find the information you need. The table of contents will lead you to the portion of the text that tells you what you need to know. I called Micromation in Canada to discuss the documentation, and they assured me the manual is being re-written by professional educators and will be more complete. It will also be indexed.

The Tutorial Disk

Micromation seems to be aware that Gutenberg can be difficult to learn simply by reading about it, so they have included a tutorial on disk. This tutorial disk makes it extremely easy to learn the basic editing commands. The disk also includes a selection of ready to use formats for those who are eager to get on with using the program and reluctant to spend time learning how to sue the formatting mode. These formats can be copied noto your file disk and used as is. If you examine the pre-programmed for-mats and their results carefully, in time you will begin to understand how formatting works. Take heart-- Gutenberg can be learned.


One of the reasons it is so difficult for the documentation to teach Gutenberg is that Gutenberg has so many features. This program does things that you probably never expected a word processor for a microcomputer to do. Features of the program include:


Inserted casually in the list above are some features you are unlikely to find in any word or text processor currently available. An example of one of the unique features of Gutenberg is the Paint Program. This is an Etch-a-Sketch type graphics program. It allows you to draw illustrations to accompany your text. So what? So it also allows you to save these illustrations and insert them in their proper place within the text. Of course, the Paint Program works only with dot matrix printers, but this is hardly a disadvantage. Since the illustrations are drawn dot-by-dot, you can have drawings of a truly satisfying complexity. Gutenberg will also accept graphics drawn under Apple DOS.

Another useful feature of Gutenberg is its ability to redefine character sets. If, for instance, you were writing in Russian, with the Graphics Program you could redefine 115 of the ASCII values to allow you to print directly in Cyrillic. Any alternate character sets available to your dot matrix printer can be used directly, as can any foreign language daisy wheels you may need, simply be redefining the normal ASCII character set. Since Gutenberg is a Canadian program, the normal character set provides the accented French letters.

Since mathematics, too, is a language, it should be pointed out that the user-definable character sets also extend to mathematical symbols. Thus, a mathematician can use Gutenberg and a dot matrix printer to output text without the need to laboriously insert mathematical formulae by hand. Due to its unique characteristics, Gutenberg virtually eliminates the necessity for "cut and paste' in any text processing operation.

To call Gutenberg a word processor is not strictly accurate. It is, rather, a text processor. If your only need is to write a few letters, then Gutenberg would not be the program for you to buy. If, however, you have text that includes tables, a that could benefit from having graphics embedded in the text, or that needs a special foreign language font then Gutenberg is definitely your program.

User Support

User support is readily provided by Micromation. They are knowledgeable about their product and eager to answer any questions you may have. The program is copy-protected, but a backup copy is provided, and provision is made to copy the master disk. If the master disk becomes defective within 90 days of purchase, Micromation will replace it free of charge. After the warranty period, a replacement costs less than $20. In all, I feel this is a more than reasonable answer to the problem of copy protection.


Gutenberg is a fairly expensive program that proves the adage "You get what you pay for.' It has useful features that cannot be found in any other program. It is somewhat difficult to learn, but well worth the effort. Gutenberg defies description in a short review, so I can only suggest that you go to your dealer and ask for a demonstration. It is a program I recommend highly.

Products: Micromation Limited The Gutenberg Word Processor (editing equipment)