I have been using computers a long time, and my biggest gripe is something as simple as a decent word processor. Frankly, trying to get something typed using a modern program like Word or Open or Libre office is an exercise is distraction. So, I have decided to return to my roots, and create in the program that I originally learned word processing on, Word Perfect for DOS. Using the DOSBox emulator, I was able to find an abondonware site that had copies of the original floppies. It runs like a dream. The great thing is that, in full screen mode, I am free from all the distractions. All I can see is this simple interface. It does have all the features (and in some cases more) than any word processor, including spell and grammar checker, WYSIWYG view, and a macros which still have not been matched. Heck, it even has reveal codes, which really allows you to modify every aspect of a document.
So, here I am, typing away at the same word processor I used in college, and high school, and you know what, it feels good. The simple cyan screen is easier on the eyes than the blinding white with black text. It may be great that it looks like a piece of paper, but with modern monitors, it is really hard on my old eyes. Also, with the limited resolution, the characters are just plain huge on the screen. I like to type without my glasses on, so this really is a blessing. I can see why some writers still use DOS based word processing. It is fast, great for touch typists and bad spellers. I don’t miss the red squiggly at all. I know you can turn it off, but it is just more natural this way.
Luckily, modern word processors running under Linux can easily read WordPerfect format files WordPerfect can also write and read Rich Text Format, which has be a standard for over 20 years. I really have to give this old workhorse one thing, it is stable and very fast. I am very impressed with how complete a program WordPerfect is, with a built in file manager, graphical mode, and a very impressive database of printers. I prefer the postscript pass through, just print to that printer and you can easily print to a modern printer. I am sure if I had an old computer I could find some printer it would work with.
So, if you need a fast, simple, but feature rich word processor, take a look at good, old WordPerfect 6.0 for DOS on abandonware sites. It works like a charm under DOSBox. Even though it is 20 years old, it gets the job done. You will get some odd stares when people see what you are using, but I like tools that work and stay out of my way. I grew up on, so why reinvent the wheel? I do think younger users will be surprised how well it works. I wrote this blog post using it.