Scripsit

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Scripsit
Superscripsit Splash.jpg
SuperScripsit 1.0
Developer(s) Tandy
Initial release 1978
Development status Historic
Operating system TRS-DOS
Type Word processor
License Proprietary

Scripsit (from the Latin for "he/she/it has written") is a word processing application written for the Radio Shack TRS-80 line of computers. Versions were available for most if not all computers sold under the TRS-80 name, including the Color Computer and several pocket computer designs, as well as the Tandy version of the Xenix operating system. Some of these versions are tape-based and have no ability to read or write to disk.

Functionality[edit]

Scripsit is a rudimentary word processor. It has basic text entry and margin controls, as well as word wrap. Many versions tied to specific platforms were available, and each version had its own set of features. Most versions supported variable width fonts, specifically for daisy-wheel printers. None had support for graphics other than some character macros[clarification needed] depending on the version. The version for the TRS-80 Model I had special handling to make it possible to use lowercase letters, even though the hardware itself did not support mixed-case type.

Despite its limitations, it was seen at the time as a killer application for the TRS-80 line of machines, along with other breakthrough applications such as VisiCalc. The software market evolved quickly, however, and its popularity soon gave way to WordPerfect running on the IBM PC.

Word processors typically require the use of special function keys to access editing commands as opposed to text entry. This proved to be a challenge on the TRS-80 Model I and Model III computers, as their keyboards had no non-typewriter modifier keys—not even a [Control] key. Instead, Tandy drafted the '@' key to access features such as margin control and load/save.

SuperScripsit[edit]

Scripsit's main menu

An alternate disk-only version named Superscripsit was available with spellchecking for some platforms, specifically the Model I, Model III, and Model 4. This version basically matches the functionally of the normal Scripsit for disk-based platforms such as the Model II, Model 12, and Model 16. Some additional features such as boilerplating and integration with Profile, Tandy's database program for all of their TRS-80 platforms, are available for the disk versions.

Starting Superscripsit led to a main menu of tasks such as "Open", "Proofread", or "Setup". Presumably because of the limited screen area on most TRS-80 models, there were no visible menus on the editing screen. RAM was probably also an issue, since selecting each of the options resulted in heavy floppy disk activity.

Bugs[edit]

Scripsit had a number of significant bugs that could result in the loss of work. The Model 4 version, for example, would inject random text throughout the document if the user held the control key ('@') down for more than a few seconds. If the machine turned off or were reset while a document was still open, the software could not open the document ever again.

Printing support[edit]

One handy and somewhat innovative feature for the time was the ability to add custom control characters in the printer setup. This allowed the user to take advantage of new features in a printer that were not intrinsically supported by Scripsit, such as different fonts or colours, or printing extended ASCII characters to produce simple lines and boxes. This was possible as printer manuals of the day included a full list of supported control character sequences for such functionality.

Notable users[edit]

Isaac Asimov used Scripsit running on a TRS-80 Model II Computer for over nine years, and wrote over 11 million words with the program.

References[edit]

Notes