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PC Write


PC-Write was a computer word processor and was one of the first three widely popular software products sold via the marketing method that became known as shareware. It was originally written by Bob Wallace in early 1983. PC-Write was a modeless editor, using control characters and special function keys to perform various editing operations. It could produce plain ASCII text files, but there were also features that embedded control characters in a document to support automatic section renumbering, bold and italic fonts, and other such. Lines beginning with particular control characters and/or a period (. ) contained commands that were evaluated when the document was printed, e.g. to specify margin sizes, select elite or pica type, or to specify the number of lines of text that would fit on a page. While Quicksoft distributed copies of PC-Write for $10, the company encouraged users to make copies of the program for others in an early example of shareware. Quicksoft asked those who liked PC-Write to send it $75. The sum provided a printed manual (notable for its many pictures of cats, drawn by Megan Dana-Wallace), telephone technical support, source code, and a registration number that the user entered into his copy of the program. The company paid $25 to a registered user for each copy of PC-Write with a registration number that resulted in a $75 sale. A configuration file allowed customizing PC-Write, including remapping the keyboard. Later versions of the registered (paid for) version of the program included a thesaurus (which was not shareware) along with the editor. Utilities were also provided to convert PC-Write files to and from other file formats that were common at the time. Bob Wallace found that running Quicksoft used so much of his time he could not improve the PC-Write software. In early 1991, he sold the firm to another Microsoft alumnus, Leo Nikora, the original product manager for Windows 1.0 (19831985). Wallace returned to full programming and an updated version of PC-Write was released in June 1991. One feature nearly unique to PC-Write was to copy and paste a block of text anywhere. For instance, if one had a block of information, one per line, in the format Name (spaces) Address, one could highlight only the addresses section and paste that into the right-hand part of a page. jEdit is also capable of performing this function. When the market changed to multi-program software, office suites combining a word processor, spreadsheet, and database programs, Quicksoft went out of business in 1993.


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