WordStar is a word processor application that had a dominant market share during the early- to mid-1980s. It was published by MicroPro International, written for the CP/M operating system but ported to MS-DOS. Although Seymour I. Rubinstein was the principal owner of the company, Rob Barnaby was the sole author of the early versions of the program. Starting with WordStar 4.0, the program was built on new code written principally by Peter Mierau. WordStar was deliberately written to make as few assumptions about the underlying system as possible, allowing it to be ported across the many platforms that proliferated in the early 1980s; as all of these versions had similar commands and controls, users could move between platforms with equal ease. Popular, its inclusion with the Osborne 1 computer made the program become the de facto standard for much of the word-processing market; as the computer market became dominated by the IBM PC, this same portable design made it difficult for the program to add new features and affected its performance.

In spite of its great popularity in the early 1980s, these problems allowed WordPerfect to take WordStar's place as the most used word processor from 1985 onwards. Seymour I. Rubinstein was an employee of early microcomputer company IMSAI, where he negotiated software contracts with Digital Research and Microsoft. After leaving IMSAI, Rubinstein planned to start his own software company that would sell through the new network of retail computer stores, he founded MicroPro International Corporation in September 1978 and hired John Robbins Barnaby as programmer, who wrote a word processor, WordMaster, a sorting program, SuperSort, in Intel 8080 assembly language. After Rubinstein obtained a report that discussed the abilities of contemporary standalone word processors from IBM, Wang Laboratories, Barnaby enhanced WordMaster with similar features and support for the CP/M operating system. MicroPro began selling the product, now renamed WordStar, in June 1979. Priced at $495 and $40 for the manual, by early 1980, MicroPro claimed in advertisements that 5,000 people had purchased WordStar in eight months.

WordStar was the first microcomputer word processor to offer mail merge and WYSIWYG. Barnaby left the company in March 1980, but due to WordStar's sophistication, the company's extensive sales and marketing efforts, bundling deals with Osborne and other computer makers, MicroPro's sales grew from $500,000 in 1979 to $72 million in fiscal year 1984, surpassing earlier market leader Electric Pencil. By May 1983 BYTE magazine called WordStar "without a doubt the best-known and the most used personal computer word-processing program"; the company released WordStar 3.3 in June 1983. By 1984, the year it held an initial public offering, MicroPro was the world's largest software company with 23% of the word processor market. A manual that PC Magazine described as "incredibly inadequate" led many authors to publish replacements. One of them, Introduction to WordStar, was written by future Goldstein & Blair founder and Whole Earth Software Catalog contributor Arthur Naiman, who hated the program and had a term inserted into his publishing contract that he not be required to use WordStar to write the book, using WRITE instead.

WordStar 3.0, the first version for MS-DOS, appeared in April 1982. The DOS version was similar to the original, although the IBM PC had arrow keys and separate function keys, the traditional "WordStar diamond" and other Ctrl-key functions were retained, leading to rapid adoption by former CP/M users. WordStar's ability to use a "non-document" mode to create text files without formatting made it popular among programmers for writing code. Like the CP/M versions, the DOS WordStar was not explicitly designed for IBM PCs, but rather for any x86 machine; as such, it used only DOS's API avoided any BIOS usage or direct hardware access. This carried with it; the first DOS version of WordStar, demoed by Jim Fox and executed by a team of Irish programmers in April 1982, was a port of the CP/M-86 version of WordStar, which in turn had been ported from the CP/M-80 version in September 1981. This had been started by Diane Hajicek and was completed by an Irish team of programmers under ISIS-II using Intel's source-to-source translator CONV86.

Thus the main program executable was a. COM file which could only access 64 kB of memory. Users learned they could make WordStar run faster by installing a RAM disk board, copying the WordStar program files into it. WordStar would still access the "disk" but the far faster access of the RAM drive compared to a floppy disk yielded a substantial speed improvement. However, edited versions of a document were "saved" only to this RAM disk, had to be copied to physical media before rebooting. InfoWorld described WordStar as "notorious for its complexity", but by 1983 it was the leading word processing system. Although competition appeared early, WordStar was the dominant word processor on x86 machines until 1985, it was part of the software bundle. At that time, the evolution from CP/M to MS-DOS, with an "Alt" key, had taken place. WordStar had until never suc

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