Home  Articles  Programs 

History of the Commodore WordPro Series of Word Processors

Introducing WordPro 3 Plus -a new word processor for the Commodore 64- has raised questions about the other WordPro's and the differences between them all. Here we will address those questions with a view to how it all began.

Steve Punter - Creater Of The Series

There is now a WordPro program for virtually every Commodore computer, starting with WordPro 1 up to the new WordPro 6 Plus. It all started when computer enthusiast Steve Punter, at age 20 bought an original 8K Pet computer that had a built in cassette unit.

His intentions were to create a text editor for home use. At that time he was already familiar with word processing systems and wanted to create a program of his own that would have the same kind of editing functions. The WordPro series was eventually to develop out of his attempts. but not before a few preliminary editions.

Initially he wrote a simple text editor to which he later added a formatter for screen and printer output, and named it the "DCE Text Editor" (Direct Cursor Editor). This was late 1978 and there was no printer available for testing out the program further. However, the program was circulated for a while and one of the impressed recipients contacted Steve for more information. Eventually they formed a successful alliance that still continues today - several programs later.

Encouraged through the response of his programs and the formation of a new company, Steve started to rewrite this program and created "Status Line EF8" for 16K Pets. So far everything had to be hand assembled. Finally in May 1979 Steve was able to use a printer with his programs for the first time.

"WordPro 2" For The 2001

WordPro 2 evolved later in 1979 and was the first program to become commercially available. It was written specifically for the newer 16k Commodore 2001 computer and to Steve's great delight, an assembler was also now available. There was also a new disk drive (the 2040) on the scene. WordPro 2 had a menu of editing commands, including such features as Append, Load, Merge, and Save, and it offered up to 173 lines of text.

This original version ran only with Basic 2.0 and became obsolete when later, the 2001's were upgraded to Basic 4.0.

"WordPro 1" On Cassette For The 8K PET

The success of WordPro 2 drew Steve back to his earlier 8K programs and he completed revisions for the creation of WordPro 1. This package, like all WordPro programs, comes complete with a manual and a program tape or diskette. It is still available on cassette (or the 8K or 2001 Pet. One side of the program tape has WordPro 1 Basic 1.0 and the other side 2 contains the Basic 2.0 version.

Its functions include a status line and many of the popular text editing functions inherent in all the WordPro's that follow. There are up to 53 lines of text per file allowed, and if features the still present "wrap around " at the end of lines

"WordPro 3" For The 4032

WordPro 3 was designed for the 4032 computer and was far better than anything else to date. It combined all the features of WordPro 2 and added many more. A company called "Professional Software Inc." would become the distributor of these programs.

"Saving" files was railed "Memorizing" for the first time. Global functions allowed for global search and replace, global repagination through linking files, global printing with automatic page numbering and headers and footers. Files could be up to 338 lines long, and an "extra text" area could contain at least 23 lines, with these numbers of lines being adjustable, between the two work spaces.

"WordPro 4" For The 8032

WordPro 4 was introduced to the business market when the new 80 column screen appeared. It was a twin to WordPro 3 except for the additional feature called "Output to Video" which was made possible by the wider screen. This allowed the operator to view the text in its formatted form before print out.

Finally - "WordPro 3 Plus" and "WordPro 4 Plus"

Eventually, WordPro 3 was replaced by WordPro 3 "Plus" -an improved edition that now includes many more printer functions such as bold face print, variable line spacing and character spacing, and the ability to add and subtract columns of numbers.

At the same time in late 1981, WordPro 4 was also obsoleted by its updated version - WordPro 4 "Plus". The same extra features of "3 Plus" have been included as well as few more, such as a directory in four columns for easier viewing, with tab saving ability. This highly sophisticated program still rates highly with the top word processors on the market today. "WordPro 4 Plus" runs on the 8096 and the SuperPet as well as the 8032.

"WordPro 2 Plus" - Word Processing For All Systems!

In 1982, an all new "WordPro 2 Plus" was created to run on any system with a minimum of 16K. Fashioned after WordPro 3 Plus, this was the program to answer the needs of education, or individuals who have any combination Commodore hardware (4016, 4032, 8032, 8096, SP9000, 4040, 8050 or cassette units), therefore it runs with either 80 column screens. "Fat 40" or regular 40 columns. The configuration is selected at the startup of the program. Basically the same as "3 Plus", it has a few less features due to the limit of 16K memory.

"WordPro 3 Plus For The 64"

WordPro 3 Plus was converted for the Commodore 64 computer completely intact, and has been available since January 1983.

"WordPro 4 Plus ML" (MultiLingual)

This is the same great WordPro 4 Plus program with a difference. The "ML" version, adapted by an associate in Montreal, will allow for text to be entered in French, German, Spanish or Italian (as well as English), with all the appropriate characters appearing on the screen. Such characters are easily accessible through the redefining of several keys and the use of a special character generator ROM. Letter quality printers must have specific type fonts to function accurately.

"WordPro 5 Plus" For The 8096

With every new computer there has emerged a new WordPro, and thus WordPro 5 Plus evolved - even though "4 Plus" will also run with the 8096. The major advantage to WordPro 5 Plus is the size of the text files and work spaces. There are 169 lines available in each of 5 separate text areas. The main text and 4 extra text areas can be likened to working on 5 different files at any time, switching from one to another for reference, or editing and updating, as required.

"WordPro 6 Plus" For The SuperPET (SP9000)

Like "5 Plus", this program also offers multiple text areas, however now the number of lines in each is somewhat definable. The operator is asked to select either "Short or Long Banks" of text. "Short banks" will provide 6 text areas of 153 lines each, while "Long banks " will provide 3 text areas of 256 lines each as well as 2 areas of 51 lines each. This program is available as of July 1983.

Future WordPro's?

Already well underway, is a program for the Commodore 64 that is a total reconstruction of the WordPro series. This word processor, to be called "WordPro 64", is promised to be based on the most modern concepts developed in recent years, and will have many incredibly advanced features that Steve Punter feels will create the best word processor ever. Needless to say, we are all eagerly awaiting its relea.se.

Extra Manuals

Two independent manuals have now been published to help owners and students learn WordPro programs. Both are complete with step by step instructions and practical exercises. One manual published by Gage Publishing is entitled "Introduction to WordPro 4 Plus", authored by two professors from the University of Western Ontario. The other is published by Copp Clark Pitman and authored by three teachers in the North York Board of Education. It is entitled "WordPro for Commodores. A Student Manual"

WordPro Compatible Programs

"MailPro" (By Steve Punter)

MailPro is especially versatile in setting up mailing lists for merging with WordPro files, or for printing out mailing labels or envelopes. Over 2,000 records can be stored on one disk (depending upon disk drive), and fields can be easily sorted and retrieved just like a full-fledged data base program.

"SpellPro" (By Jim Butterfield)

Just what so many have hoped for! "SpellPro" will check the spelling in WordPro files against the "Butterfield Basic" dictionary. The "unmatched" words are marked for either correction, deletion, and/or addition to the dictionary which can be extended up to 80,000 words (depending upon disk drive).

All the above programs - WP1, WP2+, WP3+, WP4+, WP5+, WP6+ and SpellPro and MailPro - are available from authorized Commodore computer dealers.

Below is a program that will allow you to read WordPro files if you do not have a WordPro program. Thats all for now. more next time.

100 input "filename" ;f$
110 input " drive #";dr
120 z$ = chr$(0) :s$ = chr$(32)
130 open 1,8,3,mid$(str$(dr),2)+":"+f$+",p,r"
140 get#1,a$,a$
150 get#1,a$: ss=st
160 a=asc(a$ + z$)
170 if a>64 and a<96 then a = a + 128
180 if a<32 then a=a+64
190 print chr$(a);: if ss then 240
200 if a<>95 then 150
210 print
220 get#1,a$: if a$ = s$ then 220
230 goto 160
240 close 1
250 end

Reference: The Transactor Magazine, July 1983, Vol.4, Issue 4, "The WordPro Book Of Tricks, Commodore Canada", pp.29-31 http://cbm.csbruce.com/~csbruce/cbm/transactor/v4/i4/ (Retrieved in Jan. 2014)

Donna Green

Keywords: Word Processor, WordPro, Software History

C64 Projects Twitter Page

İlker Fıçıcılar's CBM Page