Word Processor/Text Editor?

Discussion about ZX80 / ZX81 Software
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Word Processor/Text Editor?

Post by PaulKD »

Hey all...
I am a noob to the Sinclairverse and I asked around a little in the Timexverse, and I was kinda surprised that someone who could tell me how to take apart a TS1000 and put it back together in their sleep, loves discussing the hardware and it's history... went silent and scratched their head when I asked them about what people used as a word processor to save simple text files on a ZX81/TS1000...? Presumably, once the 16K was available, people would have wanted to use the thing to save text, I would think.... I know I want to, LOL! So my authority seemed never to have considered using the device as a word processor, and I know that early home microcomputers were not necessarily perceived as tools for documenting simple words... So I do not know if young kids in the UK ever used the thing to type stuff for school, for example, I mean why would they if they could not print in standard A4 format to submit something? I remember all of the "advanced tech typewriters" of the era too... but those would have been expensive, so I am guessing that high school students did not type stuff in secondary school, and I don't remember at what point in the 80's I had to begin typing essays and papers, but I know it was junior or senior year, (so like 88-91, yeah, I'm young.) but I know also that I used a typewriter that my mom used for work, and it was not digital with editing, etc. I had white out. It would never have even occurred to me to try to do my homework on our Atari 400, which was used strictly for games, of which we only ever had a few, and we had no printer, anyhow. It was really a waste of space, LMAO. We simply weren't "computer people"
Anyhow, I am seeking a text editor or method for ZX81, if anyone has info, and would love any feedback about the "historical" question regarding whether or not the ZX81 was used at all for school/office work. I am assuming not really.

Kind Regards, Paul
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Re: Word Processor/Text Editor?

Post by mrtinb »

People may have used Tasword with their ZXPrinter or Alplhacom32.

You could also use LText which gave you lowercase letters.

There was also Word Sinc II, which would give you lowercase and more than 32 letters per line with a more narrower font.

If you were professional, there was Memotext which needed extra hardware. First Memotext was inside an hardware cartridge, and you needed Memopak Centronics or Serial Interface to connect a parallel or serial printer. Now you had full 80 column text output.

People didn't use software to save text files, as that is a complicated thing on a ZX81. On a ZX81 you cannot save data files, so you can only update your memory, and save the whole program again, now containing the data you want to save.
ZX81, Lambda 8300, Commodore 64, Mac G4 Cube
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Re: Word Processor/Text Editor?

Post by PaulKD »

Thanks Martin!
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Re: Word Processor/Text Editor?

Post by 1024MAK »

To answer some of you questions. As Martin has already said, Tasword was reasonably popular. And when the ZX Spectrum cane out, a much improved version of Tasword was developed and released.

During the time of the ZX81, even 9 pin dot matrix printers were very expensive compared to the cost of a ZX81. Never mind the expensive daisy wheel type that was needed for business quality letters.

This was still the case when the ZX Spectrum was released. For both the ZX81 and the ZX Spectrum, if you wanted to use a “proper” printer, you also had to buy a parallel printer interface.

At my school in 1983, my school had a total of two BBC B machines (each with a disk drive( and a single Research Machines 380Z. I think there was a single 9 pin dot matrix printer.

Because “proper” printers were so expensive, the cheap Sinclair ZX Printer was reasonably popular. Next up, at a higher price was the Alplhacom32 thermal paper printer.

In the early 1980s, unless you had something like a BBC B or a “business machine” (CP/M or an even more expensive 8088/8086 based PC), word processing was not really considered practical at home. Hence the large number of electronic typewriters that were available.

Later on, after Sinclair released the Interface 1 for the ZX Spectrum, things started to slowly change. But for the ZX81, given the limitations, you really needed to improve it (mechanical keyboard, RAM pack, parallel printer interface), even then, word processing was a niche thing.

For me, I didn’t really start using word processing software until I got an Atari STFM. But that was sometime in the late 1980s (1986 I think).

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