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» Monday, October 28, 2002
“Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot...” Part 1
When I went back to school for a year in 1981-1982, one of the classes I wanted to take at Johnson & Wales College was one of those newfangled “word processing” courses. It was typing on a computer, which seemed a novelty: when I graduated high school in ‘74, computers were still complicated machines that ran solely on numbers and punch cards.
Dad wanted me to have the course, too. Even with only an eighth grade education, he saw that this was the “upcoming thing.”
However, J&W determined that my lack of typing speed (only 55 words per minute) meant that I didn't have what it took to learn word processing. (For various reasons, including that one, I’m not one of the people who worships on J&W’s altar. Frankly, I hate their guts.) It was left to some friends with a Commodore 64 to expose me to the wonders of word processing via EasyScript. Later at work I used something called “Spellbinder,” then various Wang systems, and at home used Paperclip for our own Commodore.
Then CDC converted to WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS.
I fell head over heels in love with it in less than two weeks. It was everything anyone could want in a word processor. Somewhat later, when we traded up from a Commodore to a PC, I amazingly obtained, free, a fully, legitimate copy of WP5.1 (from a person who shall remain nameless, but let’s say I will love him for the rest of my life).
And as good as 5.1 was, it became a marvel when matched with the magic of WordPerfect Magazine. I hounded the local computer store for each new issue, finally got tired of waiting, and subscribed. Each month--along with some of the oddest abstract graphics ever published--there were glorious new macros that would automate tables, pop up characters on demand, run unusual queries, etc. I got to the point where I could tweak the macros myself (a macro that popped up various ASCII symbols, for instance, I converted into a letter-writing template). WordPerfect could do everything but sit up and bark.
WP6.0 looked great, but I found it less than a marvel and it remained unused while I happily typed away in 5.1. The evil Windows interface arrived in the form of WP5.2 (probably the clunkiest version of WP ever made). The folks at WordPerfect Magazine changed the name to WordPerfect for DOS and started publishing WordPerfect for Windows.
The Microsoft machine bulldozed on. One day WordPerfect for DOS magazine was gone. I continued to type in DOS, but the magazines were relegated to a box. And once WPWin6 came, a distinct improvement over quirky 5.2, I was converted as well.
Flash forward to today. Both James and I are consummate pack rats (the instinct seems to be inherited: he got it from his dad, I got it from my grandfather). Lately we, but mostly I, have been attempting to get out from under the various things that have been stored up, in and around which are now useless. One of the big jobs to tackle is the closet in the spare room, which aside being filled with what it should be storing, has become an enless repository of old things, including SCA feast gear, hospital papers from 1990, Commodore 64 software, curtains my mom sent that I don’t intend to use--and that box full of WordPerfect Magazines.
It’s silly to say, but it will hurt me to throw them out, even though they are of no earthly use any longer. In an odd way they were friends that made me happy once upon a time.