Web Extra

Editor’s Note
The following timeline accompanies the main articles, “Origin of Word Processing Software for Personal Computers: 1976-1985” and “Proliferation and Consolidation of Word Processing Software: 1985-1995” by Thomas J. (Tim) Bergin, which appear in the October-December 2006 issue of IEEE Annals of the History of Computing. The timeline was omitted from the articles because of space constraints.

Word Processing Timeline



J.C.R. Licklider, “Man-Computer Symbiosis,” published in IRE Trans. on Human Factors in Electronics, March 1960, pp. 4-11.


Douglas Englebart, Augmenting the Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework Summary Report, Stanford Research Institute, October 1962, 134pp. See also “The Augmented Knowledge Workshop” by Doug Englebart in A History of Personal Workstations, Adele Goldberg, ed., ACM Press, 1988, pp. 185-236.


Radio Electronics (magazine) publishes “How to Build a Personal Minicomputer, the Mark-8,” July 1974. For Jon Titus’s perspective on his creation, see http://www.his.com/~jlewczyk/adavie/mark8b.html.

Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) releases the Alto minicomputer

Working at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) of the Xerox Corporation, Charles Simonyi and Butler Lampson write the first WYSIWYG application, Bravo, a word processor, on the Alto minicomputer. The Alto supported a graphical user interface, used a bit-mapped display and allowed control of the cursor with a mouse.

Creative Computing (magazine) launched


Altair appears on cover of Popular Electronics (January)

Dick Heiser opens the first retail store: The Computer Store, in Los Angeles

Byte (magazine) launched

Paul Terrell opens the Byte Shop in Mountain View, California


Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak create the Apple computer in Job’s garage

Apple I (a kit) was offered for $666

Gary Kildall founds Intergalactic Digital Research; first sale of Control Program for Microcomputers (CP/M)

Electric Pencil offered for sale in December by Michael Shrayer Software. This is the first word processing package for a microcomputer. It was developed by Michael Shrayer a frequent attendee at the Home Brew Computer Club in Menlo Park, California.


Tandy Corporation and Commodore offer computers with built-in monitors

Microsoft founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to create and sell language translators; their first sale was a BASIC interpreter for the MITS Altair.

Apple II is announced and establishes the benchmark for personal computers

April: first West Coast Computer Faire held


March: second West Coast Computer Faire held

August: WordMaster offered for $150 at PC Expo in New York

Seymour Rubinstein founds MicroPro International, in September

November: third West Coast Computer Faire held

Electric Pencil II released

Intel’s first 16-bit processor, the 8086, debuts

Apple II offered for sale

John Draper develops EasyWriter for the Apple II; this is a clone of Electric Pencil; later chosen to be the word processing package for the IBM Personal Computer (in 1981)

Apple Writer created for the Apple II by Paul Lutus

Personal Computing (magazine) launched


May: fourth West Coast Computer Faire: early version of WordStar demonstrated

June: WordStar offered for sale ($495 for the software; $40 for the manual)

September: Satellite Software International founded to market word processing software for the Data General minicomputer


IBM selects PC-DOS from Microsoft as operating system for its new PC; Microsoft later gets permission from IBM to sell the operating system under its own name, as “MS-DOS,” to other minicomputer manufacturers and users

WordStar for the Epson released

SSI introduces SSI*WP for Data General minicomputers ($5,500)


IBM introduces the personal computer (IBM PC) in August ($3,995)

Xerox releases the Star, a commercial version of the Xerox Alto minicomputer with a graphical user interface and mouse; at $40,000 it was a marketing failure

EasyWriter is selected by IBM for use with the IBM Personal Computer

WordStar for CP/M-86 machines released Osborne 1 offered with WordStar; MailMerge, and SuperCalc

Charles Simonyi leaves Xerox PARC and joins Microsoft


Intel 80286: 16-bit data path; 16 Mbytes of memory; 3 MIPS [million instructions per second]

Lotus Development Corp. offers Lotus 1-2-3

Columbia Data Products produces the first IBM PC clone

Time magazine names The Computer as its “Man of the Year”

WordPerfect 2.20 introduced for the IBM PC ($495)

WordStar for PC-DOS released

Volkswriter released by Lifetree Software

PC Magazine launched


Apple Lisa launched in May, with a “desk-top” metaphor using a mouse, icons, and pull-down menus ($9,995)

September: Microsoft introduces MS Word for DOS

September: NewWord 1 (WordStar clone) released by NewStar Inc.

November: Microsoft unveils Microsoft Windows, an extension of the MS-DOS operating system that provides a graphical operating environment

WordPerfect 3.0 released

PC World magazine debuts

Creative Computing magazine publishes special issue on word processing packages


8 January 1984: Seymour Rubinstein suffers a heart attack and relinquishes control of MicroPro

Apple Macintosh ($2,495) is unveiled during Super Bowl football game

Electric Pencil PC (for the IBM Personal Computer) released

March: MicroPro goes public

NewWord 2 released

WordPerfect 4.0 released

MultiMate for the IBM PC released by Softword Systems Inc. (later renamed Multimate International)


Intel 80386: 32-bit data path; 4 Gbytes of memory; 5 MIPS

January: Microsoft Word 1 for Macintosh; Word 2.0 for DOS released

Ashton-Tate acquires MultiMate International

WordStar 2000 released for MS-DOS and AT&T Unix computers

WordPerfect 4.1 released

Microsoft Windows 1.0 introduced


Intel-based personal computers reach 50 percent of new sales

WordPerfect takes off with introduction of 4.2; surpasses WordStar

PC Magazine reviews 57 word processing packages for IBM PC and clones

October: Microsoft Word 3 for Macintosh (there was no version 2) released

October: Microsoft Word 3 (DOS) released

October: WordPerfect 4.2 released


WordStar 4.0 for CP/M and WordStar 4.0 for DOS released

WordPerfect 4.1 for DEC/VAX, Amiga ($395) and Atari ST ($295) released

WordPerfect is number 1 word processing package according to Liebowitz and Margolis, Winners, Losers & Microsoft

October: Microsoft Windows 2.0 and Microsoft Word 4 (DOS) released


Microsoft and IBM release OS/2

Intel-based personal computers constitute 50 percent of installed base

PC Magazine reviews 55 word processing packages for IBM PCs and clones

WordStar 5.0 for DOS released

WordPerfect 4.2 for VAX, Data General, AT&T Unix, and NCR Unix released

WordPerfect 1.0 for Macintosh released

WordPerfect Office for DEC VAX and WordPerfect Office for DOS LANs released

WordPerfect Library 1.0 for Commodore Amiga introduced

WordPerfect 5.0 for DOS released

WordPerfect 4.2 for SCO Xenix and Microport Unix introduced

WordPerfect 4.2 for DEC Ultrix, Pyramid Tech Unix, Sun 3 introduced


Intel 80486: 32-bit data path; 4 Gbytes of memory; 25 MIPS

Microsoft introduces MS Word for Windows

March: Microsoft Word 4 for Macintosh released

Microsoft Word 5.0 (DOS) released

WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS released

August: Microsoft Office for Macintosh (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) introduced

MicroPro changes name to WordStar International


Microsoft Windows 3.0 released

Microsoft Office for Windows (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) introduced

WordStar 6.0 for DOS released

WordPerfect 4.2 for IBM System/370 introduced

Word for Macintosh is #1 in sales (Macintosh wps)

Microsoft becomes the first personal computer software company to exceed $1 billion in sales in a single year, with revenues of $1.18 billion


Microsoft Word 2 for Windows released

WordPerfect 5.1 for Windows introduced

WordStar for Windows 1.0 introduced

Lotus Smart Suite (Lotus 1-2-3, AmiPro, Freelance) introduced

Microsoft Word 5 for Macintosh released

Microsoft Word 5.5 (DOS) released


Microsoft releases Windows 3.1 with more than 1,000 enhancements; creates unprecedented user demand with over a million advance orders worldwide

Microsoft Office 3 (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) released

Word for Windows is best-selling word processing package (eclipsing WordPerfect DOS)

WordStar 1.1 for Windows released

WordPerfect 5.2 for Windows released

Microsoft Office is 50 percent of Microsoft’s office application sales


Intel Pentium: 64-bit data path; 4 Gbytes of memory; 111 MIPS

Microsoft Windows NT 3.1 released

Word for Windows 6 (renumbered to parallel DOS versions) released

Word 6.0 for DOS released

Word 6 for Macintosh released

WordPerfect 6.0 for DOS released

WordPerfect 6.0 for Windows released

WordPerfect Corporation and Borland form an alliance and release Borland Office for Windows (WordPerfect, Quattro Pro, and Paradox)


Novell buys WordPerfect Corporation and Quattro Pro and Paradox from Borland

WordStar International becomes SoftKey International

Major sources for dates in the timeline: