WordStar was the first word processing programs. Version 1.0 was a development of the Master Word program and was released in September 1978 for the operating system CP / M.


Predecessor products

The former IMSAI marketing chief Seymour Rubinstein founded in 1976 the company MicroPro International Inc.. , The system programmer John Robbins Barnaby, who had previously also worked for IMSAI developed WordMaster for the operating system CP / M.

First version

WordStar was first shown at the West Coast Computer Faire in Brooks Hall in April 1979 in San Francisco.

The programmer Rob Barnaby and Jim Fox had developed new techniques for this relatively large program, such as the file -swapping, meaning the process files that are larger than the main memory of the computer - because CP / M ran on processors, which could only address up to 64 kB of RAM, making about ten typewritten pages of text fit into memory at once.

Once there was the program initially for CP / M, it was later ported to other operating systems (Apple II, MS- DOS, Windows).


WordStar brought many new functions, such as the WordStar cross or control diamond: Ctrl -S, Ctrl -D, Ctrl -E and Ctrl -X form of a cross, with the moves the pointer to the left, right, up or down was - the arrow keys it did not yet exist on many keyboards. An entire line is deleted with Ctrl -Y. Many of these key commands were taken from WordStar -compatible editors, for example of the Unix / Linux editor Joe, the MS -DOS Editor "EDIT" or the programming interfaces for Turbo Pascal and QBasic.

You could fill half of the screen with a help window on which all key commands were explained. If you knew the commands, you could shrink the Help window or completely switching off in order to have more space for your own text. For commands that consisted of two keys ( such as Ctrl - OL5 - left margin on the 5th column set ) could, if you hesitated long enough after the first press, the right to this first press the Help window will appear automatically.

The capabilities of WordStar 3.0 (1982 appeared ) were immense. There was variable tabs, you could omit the output automatically fill with blanks to obtain justification, and there was "soft" hyphens that were only printed if they actually stood at the end of the line. WordStar was far ahead of even the possibilities of CP / M and the then screens. So you could also give commands to print characters in italics or bold - these were not in italics or bold on the screen, but only highlighted by special license plate, but the printer printed it correctly ( a print preview existed at least since the DOS version 5 ). Some editing functions, such as right-aligned tabs and manual line break within a paragraph, but were absent in all versions of DOS.


After the operating system CP / M did not support single screen or printer output, it was necessary in each case to adapt the user program accordingly. WordStar included to at defined locations of the executable program specially reserved blocks of code to be able to with the help of a debugger strings (for example, escape sequences ) or small machine programs insert and make so the hardware adapt flexibly. This was one of the reasons for the former distribution of WordStar.

Printer control

For the printer control a lot of dot commands have been introduced: a combination of letters that followed a colon at the beginning. For example meant. CP 10 that the printer should start a new page if less than 10 blank lines were free until the regular blade end.


WordStar was extended by add-on packages, such as Spell Star for spell checking and mail merge for form letters.

Use in the GDR

In addition to a number of on Robotron and other hardware adapted original versions of a text processing names TP on the CP / M derivative SCP was used, which in addition to the localization of the user interface from English to German, the change the file extension DOC to TXT and a configuration utility for Robotron printer was WordStar largely identical.

End of the development

The 1987 published WordStar 4 was the last major commercial software for the CP / M operating system. End of the 80s WordStar was then 7 developed for DOS: with mouse support, using a macro language and with access to the Windows clipboard 3 However, WordStar could no longer catch up with WordPerfect.