R.I.P. Bruce Bastian, co-developer of WordPerfect.

Like many others brought up on WordPerect as the word processor, I was highly enamoured of its clean interface, its keyboard controlled power and its unique way of getting out of the way of writing. The "clean screen interface" approach has been instrumental in many of my software choices since; I am still a bigger fan of keyboard control than mouse or trackpad, and as someone else mentioned, it informs my decision to use vi and vim above any other text editor. When first introduced to Microsoft Word, I hated it thoroughly; the cluttered screen and lack of control (not to mention, absence of "Reveal Codes"!). WYSIWYG was to me then (and often, now) a mess of clutter that I find distracting. With only a little effort to use keyboard shortcuts, I was far faster in WP5.1 in DOS than any Windows word processor(but I do not want to start another holy war here. As I move more toward using Markdown for my E2 writeups (and even a little LaTeX in other writing), I reckon my workflow will be better than any GUI writing program.

This has all been prompted today by reading in The Register of the death of Bruce Bastian, one of the original developers of the program.

A Little History

What was to become WordPerfect was developed starting in 1979 at the Brigham Young University, the code being written by undergrad student Bruce Bastian and Alan Ashton, one of his professors. Developed for the Data General minicomputer, despite the university contract, the pair nonetheless retained rights to the codebase, and went on to found Satellite Software International to further develop and market the software.

In 1982: The MS-DOS version of WordPerfect was released, and quickly became popular. At the time of the release, there was still no C Compiler available for the PC, and the program was written and continued to be developed using x86 assembly language until the release of WordPerfect 5.1. In 1986: the WordPerfect Corporation was established as a separate entity to manage the software's development and distribution. Over the next decade the software became the dominant word processing software for the PC, displacing the OG WordStar. With the Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, WordPerfect became the dominant word processing software, known for its "what you write is what you see" (uncluttered anti-WYSIWYG) interface and its well-loved and extensive set of features. After Windows 3.1 came onto the scene and began to rise in popularity, WordPerfect attempted to continue to develop, but was hampered by Microsoft not sharing its API, their initial efforts to develop for Windows were neither fast nor as well featured Microsoft's Word offering. This marked the beginning of he software's decline in popularity. Cynical me believes there was deliberate sabotage by M$ to ensure their software had all the advantages (like total access to Windows' API and certainly a larger budget and developer pool).

By 1994 WordPerfect as a business was seemingly doomed. Novell acquired WordPerfect Corporation, hoping to integrate it into its suite of office software, and having failed to compete with cheating Microsoft, sold it to Corel Corporation in 1996 due to declining sales and the increasingly strong competition from Microsoft Word et al

Corel continued to develop WP, finally attempting to sell it as an office suite with the Quattro Pro spreadsheet software, and some presentation software. Despite everyone's efforts, the software continued to decline in popularity, although it still remains popular in the legal profession.

It's sadly missed; there's a good deal of nostalgia for the program amongst those who used it in the 5.1 heyday. In fact, i owe a good deal to this program; it was through understanding how to use both it and the MS-DOS operating system that I started teaching IT in college, leading to a job in the tech field. Without WordPerfect I'd probably never have become the geek I am, would never have met Christine, in fact may never have discovered E2 when I did.

So thank you, Bruce! Requiescat in Pace, good buddy.