As I sat down at the computer this morning, I realized that Microsoft Word is 30 years old.

Yeah, I notice that kind of crap.

The first version, called Multi-Tool Word, came out in 1983. It was built for the IBM and AT&T line of UNIX microcomputers, but a few months later, was made available for use on DOS-based computers.

The software name was also changed to Microsoft Word.

Microsoft Word was unique because for the first time, you could actually see your words on the screen in some type of format that actually resembled what you were trying to print.

In fact, you could see boldface, italics, and underlines as they actually looked. I know everyone reading this thinks “so who cares”, but back then it was quite an accomplishment.

This blog is the greatest thing since clown porn!”

would have looked like this before Microsoft Word:

“^SThis^S blog is the ^Bgreatest^B thing since ^Iclown porn^I!”

Actually seeing the words in bold, italics, or underlined, was an amazing feat. And let’s not even talk about a new feature they added called “Undo”. This new software even allowed you to cut and paste between documents.

Was there no end to this Microsoft sorcery?

There were two very interesting things that happened when Microsoft Word first became available for DOS.

One. Microsoft put a trial copy of Word into the 1983 Christmas issue of PC World, and made it available to millions of users to test drive. Believe it or not, it didn’t do very well.

Two. The reason it did poorly was that Microsoft Word worked best with the use of new and strange looking pointing device called a mouse. The people who owned a mouse had to be shown how to use it with Word, others had no idea what a mouse was, and still others wondered if it had anything to do with clown porn.

But luckily for Microsoft, back then, they actually listened to customer feedback and continued to make changes and improvements to Word, and it slowly began to grow in popularity.

In 1985, Word was released for Macintosh, and in 1986 for the Atari computer (yes, Atari made computers).

Finally in 1989, Word was released for Windows version 3.0, and from then on, it grew like crazy, becoming the most widely used word processing software in the world.

I have my own vintage IBM computer, and I have just about every version of Windows and DOS that was made (geek alert), as well as quite a collection of vintage software, but I have never been able to purchase an original Word program. Every once in a while I see one on eBay, but even I’m not hardcore enough to spend $1800 on an old piece of software. Not to mention a vintage mouse from the correct time period would also set me back about $250.

No…I’ll save my money for more important things like firearms, clown porn, and Rhianna downloads.

Written by stevemargolis

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