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IBM Displaywriter System


The IBM Displaywriter System 6580 was a dedicated microcomputer-based word processing machine that IBM's Office Products Division introduced in 1980. The system consisted of a central processing unit in a desktop cabinet (similar to that of the IBM PC), a monochrome CRT monitor atop the CPU, a detached keyboard, a detached dual disk drive that used 8-inch floppy disks, and a detached daisy wheel printer. The system booted from an 8-inch floppy disk that stored IBM's internally developed word processing software. The operator stored the documents (i.e. , data files) on additional diskettes. A basic system consisting of a display with a typewriter-like keyboard and a logic unit, a printer and a device to record and read diskettes capable of storing more than 100 pages of average text cost $7,895 and leased for $275 a month. The Displaywriter's features were comparable to other dedicated word processing machines of its era. The features included mail-merge, with fields designated as a01, a02, a03, etc. Elementary arithmetic could be applied to the fields. The basic IBM Displaywriter was a standalone system. An optional central storage and management unit was available, which permitted multiple Displaywriters to share storage and a printer. UCSD p-System operating system and CP/M-86 were available for the DisplayWriter System but were not its regular Operating System. Connections to other IBM systems have been available: IBM 3278 emulation program to attach to IBM 3274/3276 controllers, IBM 4321/4331, or IBM 4701. IBM 3277 emulation program to attach to IBM 3271, 3272 or 3274 controllers. Connection to IBM 8100 systems which use DPCX/DOSF. IBM later produced DisplayWrite software for the IBM Personal Computer with a similar user interface to capitalize on the Displaywriter's popularity.


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