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WordStar was one of the first word processing programs for personal computers . Version 1.0 was a further development of the WordMaster program and was published in September 1978 for the CP / M operating system .

Basic data

developer MicroPro
WordStar International
SoftKey International
Publishing year 1978
Current  version WordStar 4 CP / M (1987),
Word Star 7.0d DOS
WordStar for Windows 2.0
operating system CP / M , CP / M-86 , DOS
category Word processing
License proprietary license
Others Development stoppedTemplate: Infobox software / maintenance / other


Predecessor products

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

First version

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

The programmers Rob Barnaby and Jim Fox had developed new techniques for this relatively extensive program, such as the use of overlay (programming) , that is, the processing of files that are larger than the working memory of the computer - because CP / M was running at that time on processors that could only address up to 64 kB of RAM , which meant that around ten typewriter pages of text could fit into memory at once.

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

Performance characteristics

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

WordStar 3.0 with a large help window
Wordstar 4.0

You could fill half of the screen with a help window that explained all the important keyboard commands. If you knew the commands, you could reduce the size of the help window or switch it off completely in order to have more space for your own text. For commands that consisted of two keys (such as Ctrl-OL5 - put left margin on the 5th column), if you hesitated long enough after the first key press, the help window corresponding to the first key press could appear automatically.

The capabilities of WordStar 3.0 (released in 1982) were immense. There were variable tab stops , you could have the lines automatically filled with spaces to get justified, and there were "soft" hyphens that were only printed when they actually stood at the end of the line. WordStar was also way ahead of the capabilities of CP / M and the screens of the time. So you could also give commands to print characters in italics or bold - these were not displayed in italics or bold on the screen, but only highlighted by special indicators, but the printer printed them correctly (a print preview existed at the latest since DOS version 5 ). However, some editing functions, such as right-aligned tab stops and manual line breaks within a paragraph, were missing in all DOS versions.


Because the CP / M operating system did not support standardized screen or printer output, it was necessary to adapt the user program accordingly. WordStar included specially reserved code blocks at defined points in the executable program in order to be able to insert character strings (e.g. escape sequences ) or small machine programs with the help of a debugger and thus to be able to flexibly adapt the hardware. This was one of the reasons for the widespread use of WordStar at that time.

Printer control

A number of dot commands were introduced for printer control : a combination of letters that followed a dot at the beginning of a line. For example, .CP 10 meant that the printer should start a new sheet if there were less than 10 blank lines left to the regular end of the sheet.


WordStar has been expanded with additional packages, such as SpellStar for spelling correction and MailMerge for form letters.

Use in the GDR

In addition to a number of original versions adapted to Robotron and other hardware, a word processor named TP was used on the CP / M derivative SCP , which apart from localizing the user interface from English to German, changing the file extension DOC to TXT and a configuration program for Robotron -Printer was largely identical to WordStar.

End of development

WordStar 4, released in 1987, was the last major commercial software for the CP / M operating system. At the end of the 80s, WordStar 7 was developed for DOS: with mouse support, with a macro language and later with access to the Windows 3 clipboard . However, from 1990 onwards, WordStar could no longer catch up with WordPerfect and later with Microsoft Word . In addition, integrated program packages such as Microsoft Works and other programs that work according to the WYSIWYG principle became more and more popular during this period for less demanding word processing tasks.

Today's distribution

Several authors use the WordStar program to this day, including Canadian science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer and author of the fantasy saga A Song of Ice and Fire, George RR Martin . The author William F. Buckley, Jr. was also a well-known proponent of WordStar.



  • 1978: V 1.0 - for CP / M
  • 1981: V 2.26 - In the scope of delivery of the Osbourne 1
  • 1982: V 3.0 - for MS-DOS , later also for Atari ST
  • 1983: V 3.3 - for CP / M-86


  • 1983: NewWord 1
  • 1984: NewWord 2
  • 1986: NewWord 3


  • 1987: V 4.0 - renaming of the further development NewWord 3.01, last version for CP / M
  • 1989: V 5.0 - only for DOS
  • 1990: V 5.5
  • 1991: V 6.0
  • 1992: V 7.0 - Revision 7.0d (December 1992) is the last version for DOS.

MicroPro Easy

  • 1985: V 1.0 - for DOS with menu control
  • 1985: V 1.5 Extra
  • 1986: WordStar Express
  • 1986: WordStar 1512 (OEM version for Amstrad / Schneider)

WordStar 2000 for DOS

  • 1985: V 1.0 - WordStar 2000, WordStar 2000 Plus
  • 1987: V 2.0
  • 1988: V 3.0
  • 1988: V 3.5 Plus - last version

WordStar for Windows

  • 1991: WordStar Legacy (NBI)
  • 1991: V 1.0
  • 1992: V 1.1 - bug fix
  • 1992: V 1.5 - support for OLE and TrueType fonts
  • 1994: V 2.0 - SoftKey International
  • 1995: WordStar Personal Writer
  • 1997: Xoom WordPro - Home Office Suite '97


  • Arthur Naiman: Introduction to WORDSTAR . Sybex-Verlag 1983, ISBN 3-88745-019-1
  • Dennis P. Curtin: Handbook of word processing: WordStar German . Markt & Technik, Haar b. Munich 1984, ISBN 3-89090-015-1
  • Elmar Weiler: The training book for WORDSTAR - MAILMERGE . Data Becker 1984, ISBN 3-89011-024-X
  • Werner Borsbach: WORDSTAR Tuning . Verlag Heinz Heise 1986, ISBN 3-88229-127-3
  • Seymor Rubinstein: The Rise and Fall of WordStar . In: Annals of the History of Computing, 28/4 (2006), pp. 64-72. ( Abstract , PDF , Podcast )

Web links

supporting documents

  1. https://wiki.polaire.nl/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=micropro_wordmaster.pdf
  2. [1] . www.sfwriter.com (June 23, 2009). Retrieved May 17, 2014
  3. ^ Not A Blog - The Social Media . Grrm.livejournal.com (February 17, 2011), Retrieved May 15, 2014
  4. Game of Thrones author explains his preference for WordStar 4.0 from 1987 (video) . de.engadget.com (May 14, 2014), Retrieved May 15, 2014
  5. ^ William F Buckley and WordStar ( Memento of May 12, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) feigenson.us (April 22, 2009), accessed on May 17, 2014