Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 4, NO. 1 / MAY 1985


State-of-the-art Atari word processing!

by Michael Ciraolo and Nat Friedland of the Antic staff

In case you weren't aware of this, it's a matter of honor at Antic to use only Atari computers in our office. And since we are a publication, word processing software is used around here a lot.

We've noticed there are two schools of thought about word processing software for the Atari. Atari users who haven't had experience with other makes of computer are reasonable satisfied. But other Atari users who've had some exposure to machines with more of a "business computer" image unfortunately know better...

Antic had been using LJK's Letter Perfect as our in-house word proceessor--although without any great enthusiasm for it.

We'd found Letter Perfect to be rather more powerful than Atari Writer or Text Wizard, the only other established "serious" Atari WP software.

Probably just as important to us was that only Letter Perfect would work with the 80-column cards we had at a couple of workstations. This advantage tended to make up for the program's files requiring a tedious conversion process anytime we needed to transfer in or out of standard Atari DOS.

Enter Paperclip

But the day our beta test copy of PaperClip arrived from Batteries Included in Toronto, the Antic Editorial Department cheerfully retired our Letter Perfect.

Every once in a while, a piece of software show up here that is so clearly superior in its category to anything else available for the Atari that Antic starts using it in-house immediately. The previous example of this was "DISKIO" (January, 1985) that at once began replacing DUP.SYS on our program disks.

Simply, PaperClip is by far the best word processor ever available for the Atari. It boasts a line-up of advanced features that would be hard to match on even the biggest-name word processing software costing $300 or more.

PaperClip makes your Atari the word processing equal of just about any computer on the market. Yet it is not hard to learn and sells for only $59.95.

Some nuts and bolts information: PaperClip runs on all Atari computers with 48K. It comes on a disk that you can back up. But the program is protected by a special key that plugs into joystick port 2.

A few technical notes: As we've previously reported, it is based on the ACTION! editor and written in 100% machine language so it's fast. (It's really quite different from the PaperClip version written for the Commodore 64.) The preliminary draft of the manual that we've got is pretty clearly written. And the screen gives you big, sharp letters with true descenders, because the program uses ANTIC Mode 3 and redefined characters.


To justify our enthusiasm for PaperClip, here are some of its most distinctive features:
  • DUAL WINDOWS--You can display two text files onscreen at the same time. And you can easily move blocks of text between file windows.
  • ONE-KEY MACROS--You can easily set up for one keytouch while pressing [START] to type in an entire word, phrase or paragraph that you regularly use in your writing.
  • PREVIEW MODE--PaperClip is easier to use in 40-column screen format than any word processor we've ever seen. In the preview mode you can scroll horizontally or vertically to see exactly how your words will fit on the page. Even in the normal mode, a diamond mark at the end of each line shows exactly where the word wrap is. (And PaperClip will support Batteries Included forthcoming plug-in 80-column card, which is due later this spring.)
  • HIGH-POWER COMMANDS--There's actually no flipping between mode menus. Saving and loading files, disk formatting, editing, text entry, disk directories and help menus are all available from the same screen with the touch of very few keys. Some really unique and useful commands include automatic save, transposing letters or words, or converting captial letters and lower-case letters back and forth.


It is not a normal thing for a computer magazine to be able to review beta test software prior to its finalization for market. However, Batteries Included unconditionally agreed to let us rush a review of our beta copy of this significant Atari word processor.

The Antic editors did find some minor problems with PaperClip. But Batteries Included promised us that most of the bugs had already been fixed in the final version of the program that goes on sale in April.

Our biggest concern was the size of the memory buffer. The latest >version we worked with had only enough free memory to handle a single-spaced document slightly over six pages long (or 12-1/2 pages double-spaced).

Batteries Included said the final version would hold files of about 20 pages double-spaced. The buffer in XL models will conatain about 28K memory, 24K in the 800 model.

To set the print format commands for boldface, underline and italics, you must specify whether it is the beginning or the end of the formatted section. We found this cumbersome, especially when so many of the other commands are so convenient.

There are still a few things that Letter Perfect does which we wish PaperClip would also do. For example PaperClip does not have a command deleting an entire word, forward or backward.

Although this word processor comes with an unprecedented number of options, for some reason it does not let you turn off the keyclick in the 800 models, which have no independant volume control.


Of course, in PaperClip you will also find all the standard features you'd expect from a competitive word processor today. There's global search and replace, underlining, italics, boldface, headers and footers, onscreen help files, pitch control, page length setting, nearly 30 different printer drivers plus a configuration menu, and on and on...

Yet for all the power it offers, PaperClip is surprisingly easy to learn. This is unusual, because the more powerful editors are usually harder to master. But PaperClip is virtually as easy to use as Bank Street Writer so there is no reason why it shouldn't be your first word processor.

Many of the editing functions are accomplished by holding down the [CONTROL] and [SHIFT] keys together plus a third key. With very little practice, this becomes second nature. And it also makes for an efficient command structure.

For instance, [DELETE] removes the character to the left of the cursor, [CONTROL] [DELETE] removes the character beneath the cursor. [SHIFT] [DELETE] removes the entire cursor line. [CONTROL] [SHIFT] [DELETE] gives you a choice of deleting to the [E]nd or [T]op of the file.


This review is based on the experiences of the four Antic editors during this first first month when we prepared an issue of the magazine entirely with PaperClip.

We wanted to tell you about this product as soon as possible. But the fact is that PaperClip even has a lot of powerful features we simply haven't had a chance to work with yet. PLus there's one or two we've been told about that are still in development.

So at this time all we can do is list the most important extra features (We don't even have room for all of them) and promise to cover these extras in a later article or articles...

  • MAIL MERGE WITH SYNFILE+ --Both programs are by the same authors, Steve Ahlstrom and Dan Moore, although SYNFILE+ was written in FORTH.
  • MULTIPLE DISK FILE GLOBAL SEARCH--Up to 6 simultaneous search and replace operations throughout all linked disk files in as many as 4 separate drives. Truly amazing.
  • ATARIWRITER-PAPERCLIP file conversion--Antic Contributing Editor Jerry White is writing this one.
  • MIXED TEXT/GRAPHICS SCREEN DUMP--this integrated screen dump will anable you to mix text and high-resolution Atari Graphics (modes 7.5 and 8) on a single printed page. It's compatible with Micro Illustrator and most other graphics software files.


To sum up, if you do any extensive amount of Atari word processing--whether it be as a student, business person or professional--you should get PaperClip right away. If it's not in your local stores yet, buy it by mail from Batteries Included. (You don't need PaperClip if you only write occasional short letters at home. For that minimal level of use you should probably look first at Batteries Included's HomePak which was reviewed in the March, 1985 Antic.)
Batteries Included
186 Queen St. West
Toronto, Ontario
M5V 1Z1 Canada