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AppleWorks 6 for Mac OS X
Developer(s)Apple II
Rupert Lissner
Bob Hearn
Scott Holdaway
Initial release1984; 35 years ago (1984)
Stable release
6.2.9 (Mac OS X)/6.2.8 (Mac OS 8.1-9.2.2)/6.2.2 (Windows) / January 14, 2004
Repositorynone Edit this at Wikidata
Operating systemClassic Mac OS, Mac OS X, Windows 2000 or later
TypeOffice Suite
LicenseProprietary - Appleworks Support

AppleWorks is an integrated office suite developed by Rupert Lissner for Apple Computer, originally for the Apple II platform, and released in 1984. The program contains a word processor, database, and spreadsheet.

The Apple IIGS (1988) and Macintosh (1991), and Microsoft Windows (1993) incarnations, which didn't share any code with the Apple II, were originally called ClarisWorks, created by the Apple subsidiary Claris. The name was changed to AppleWorks when Apple brought development of the product in-house. It was later bundled with all consumer-level Macintoshes sold by Apple until its discontinuation. As of 2007, AppleWorks had not been updated in several years and was unable to run on the Intel processors shipping in new Macs. On August 15, 2007, Apple announced AppleWorks had reached end-of-life status, and would no longer be sold.[1] Apple instead promoted their recently launched iWork suite as a replacement, which contains word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation applications with capabilities similar to AppleWorks, but is not directly compatible with AppleWorks file formats.

"AppleWorks Classic" (Apple II 1984–1991)[edit]

Developed by Rupert Lissner,[2] the original AppleWorks was one of the first integrated office suites for personal computers, featuring a word processor, spreadsheet, and database merged into a single program. It was released in 1984 as a demonstration product for the new 128k models of the Apple II line. Apple had previously published Lissner's QuickFile, a database program that closely resembled what would become the AppleWorks database module. An Apple III version of AppleWorks, which used the same file formats, was dubbed III E-Z Pieces and marketed by Haba Systems.

All three AppleWorks programs have the same user interface and exchange data through a common clipboard.[3] Previous Apple II application programs had mainly been designed with the older II/II+ line in mind, which only had 48k of RAM and 40-column text without an add-on card, thus limiting their capabilities. In contrast, Appleworks was designed for the IIe/IIc models which had more RAM, standard 80-column text, an optional numeric keypad, cursor keys, and the new ProDOS operating system in place of DOS 3.3 which had been standard on 48k machines.[citation needed]

AppleWorks debuted at #2 on Softalk's monthly bestseller list and quickly became the best-selling software package on any computer, ousting even Lotus 1-2-3 from the top of the industry-wide sales charts.[4] Apple's software subsidiary Claris sold the one millionth copy of AppleWorks in December 1988.[5]

Apple and Lissner provided technical information on modifying AppleWorks, helping to create a substantial market for third-party accessories and support. Compute!'s Apple Applications reported in 1987 that "AppleWorks has become a frontier for software developers", and predicted that "Soon, the best software on the Apple II computer line will require AppleWorks".[6] The September 1986 issue of inCider, for example, contained two AppleWorks-related articles; advertisements for two AppleWorks-related expansion cards from Applied Engineering, an application that promised to let AppleWorks run on an Apple II Plus with an 80-column display board, an AppleWorks-dedicated newsletter called The Main Menu, and an AppleWorks-related product from Beagle Bros; many other advertisements that mentioned AppleWorks; and a column criticizing companies that developed AppleWorks-related products instead of new ones ("thinks small and innovates nothing").[7] One of the most successful was the TimeOut series from Beagle Bros. TimeOut developers Alan Bird, Randy Brandt and Rob Renstrom were involved in developing AppleWorks 3.0 and eventually AppleWorks incorporated numerous TimeOut functions.[8] TimeOut developers Randy Brandt and Dan Verkade created AppleWorks 4.0 and 5.0 for Quality Computers.

Apple released version 2.0 in 1986 with the Apple IIGS,[2][9] and then a year later the program was published by Claris. Claris contracted with Beagle Bros. to upgrade AppleWorks to version 3.0 in 1989, then turned its attention to producing Macintosh and Windows software, letting AppleWorks languish. Claris did, however, agree to license the AppleWorks trademark to Quality Computers, which released AppleWorks 4.0 in 1993 and AppleWorks 5.0 in 1994.

The 8-bit AppleWorks is sometimes referred to as "AppleWorks Classic" to differentiate it from AppleWorks GS[5] and the later product for Macintosh and Windows of the same name.

Versions of "AppleWorks Classic"[edit]

Version Year Notes
1.0 1984 First release.
1.1 1985 Fixed hardware bugs with printers and interface cards.
1.2 1985 More hardware compatibility improvements.
1.3 1986 Hardware support enhancements. Update cost $20.
2.0 September 1986 More features and better hardware support. Update cost $50.
2.1 September 1988 Bug fixes and hardware compatibility improvements. Released by Claris.
3.0 1989 More features. Update cost either $79 or $99.
4.0 November 1, 1993 More features. Released by Quality Computers.
4.01 Early November 1993 Bug fixes.
4.02 Bug fixes.
4.3 1993 [10]
5.0 November 1994 Code-named 'Narnia'.
5.1 Summer 1995 Bug fixes.

AppleWorks GS (Apple IIgs 1988–1996)[edit]

Observers had expected AppleWorks 2.0 to have a Macintosh-like mouse-driven graphical user interface, but inCider reported before its release that such a revision had been delayed because of "problems between Apple and [Lissner]".[2] It was nonetheless very popular among IIGS owners; in December 1987 Compute!'s Apple Applications reported that "the hottest product on the Apple IIGS is AppleWorks. No mouse interface, no color, no graphics. Just AppleWorks from the IIe and IIc world".[6] The magazine wondered in an editorial, "AppleWorks, Where Are You?", stating that a IIGS version of AppleWorks or another AppleWorks-like integrated suite "could galvanize the machine's sales" and warned that otherwise "the IIGS may well languish".[11]

In 1988, Claris acquired an integrated package called GS Works from StyleWare and renamed it AppleWorks GS, bringing the AppleWorks brand to the 16-bit Apple IIGS, though no code from the 8-bit Apple II version is used. In addition to the word processing, database, and spreadsheet functions, AppleWorks GS also includes telecommunications, page layout and graphics modules. Only one major version of AppleWorks GS exists, progressing as far as 1.1; a vaporware 2.0 update was rumored to be "just short of completion" for a long time.[12] AppleWorks GS can open AppleWorks files without needing to import them first.[5]

Versions of AppleWorks GS[edit]

Version Year Notes
1.0 1988 First version
1.0v2 Bug fix release.
1.1 1989 Supports System Software 5.
1.2 Not released Planned bug fix release, developed by Quality Computers.
2.0 Not released Planned release, developed by Quality Computers.

AppleWorks/ClarisWorks (Macintosh/Windows 1991–2004)[edit]

The second incarnation of AppleWorks started life as ClarisWorks, written by Bob Hearn and Scott Holdaway and published by Claris, a wholly owned subsidiary of Apple, also known as FileMaker Inc.)[13] The Creator code of ClarisWorks for the Macintosh is "BOBO". The file extension of AppleWorks and ClarisWorks for Windows is .cwk for documents and .cws for templates.[14] ClarisWorks combines:[15]

All the components are integrated to provide a seamless suite that works in concert; for example, spreadsheet frames can be embedded in a word processing document, or formatted text into drawings, etc. A common misconception[citation needed] is that the components are derived from the contemporary Claris programs MacWrite and MacDraw. In fact, ClarisWorks was written from scratch and then redesigned to match other Claris programs after the purchase by Claris.[13]

ClarisWorks 1.0 shipped for the Macintosh in 1991 and was subsequently ported to the Windows platform, shipping as ClarisWorks 1.0 for Windows in 1993.[citation needed] ClarisWorks 3 is the last version to run on the 68000 CPU with at least System 6.0.7. ClarisWorks 4 requires a 68020 CPU and System 7. When the Claris company was disbanded and absorbed back into Apple, the product was renamed AppleWorks;[13] in fact, version 5 was released shortly before the product's return to Apple and was briefly called ClarisWorks 5. ClarisWorks/AppleWorks 5 requires MacOS 7.0.1, though the 5.0.4 patch can only be applied in Mac OS 9. It is the last version to support the 68k CPU architecture.

The last version, AppleWorks 6, requires a PowerPC CPU and replaces the communications module with a presentation module (in prior versions there was only rudimentary support for presentations through the other modules).[citation needed] It was also ported to the Carbon API to work on Mac OS X, but as an early Carbon application, it does not take advantage of many of the newer features of Mac OS X and portions of the interface still retain elements of the Platinum appearance of Mac OS 8/9.

Using Claris' XTND framework, AppleWorks can create, open, and save files in a number of file formats. For example, word processor documents can be saved in Microsoft Word format, and spreadsheet files can be saved in Microsoft Excel format.

The software received good reviews[citation needed] during the course of its lifespan for its interface and the tight integration of its modules. For example, like the earlier versions mentioned above, in AppleWorks a drawing "frame" can be placed in a spreadsheet document, a paint frame can be placed in a drawing document, etc. This allows for very elaborate and data-rich layouts. However, the limitations of the product became more apparent as the product aged[citation needed]. The program also only allows for a single undo/redo, and in many cases, if a frame from one module is placed in another module, the frame may no longer be editable in any way as soon as it is deselected.[citation needed]

Equation Editor by Design Science is bundled with AppleWorks. Also, the MathType or MathMagic equation editors can be used. Both support automatic baseline alignment for inline equations.

The end of AppleWorks[edit]

In August 2007, Apple declared AppleWorks "end of life" and stated that they would no longer sell the package.[17] The iWork package, which includes a word processing program, a spreadsheet, and a presentation graphics program, is intended to be its replacement. While more feature-rich, iWork still lacks some of the modules and the tight integration of AppleWorks.[citation needed] AppleWorks will not run on any versions of Mac OS X later than Snow Leopard because it is written in PowerPC code.

With the advent of system 10.7 ("Lion"), AppleWorks is no longer supported by the Macintosh operating system.[18] AppleWorks word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation files can be opened in the iWork applications Pages, Numbers, and Keynote respectively. There is no Apple-supplied application to open AppleWorks database, painting, or drawing files without converting them to a different format.[18] EazyDraw Retro supports the import of the AppleWorks drawing formats. This software runs on El Capitan and older.[19] AppleWorks User Group continues support,[20] and migrating away from AppleWorks is possible.[21]


II Computing listed AppleWorks ninth on the magazine's list of the top Apple II non-game, non-educational software as of late 1985, based on sales and market-share data.[22]

BYTE's reviewer in December 1984 called AppleWorks "easy to use, genuinely user-friendly, and well documented". She called the word processor "my favorite part ... well above average" and the spreadsheet and database "good but certainly not standouts". As a package for novice and casual users, the reviewer concluded, "Appleworks is excellent".[23] InfoWorld that month disagreed, calling it "a study in limitations ... this package is not strong". While approving of the shared clipboard and user interface, the magazine stated that Appleworks' limitations—such as the limit of eight pages in the word processor with 64K RAM—made it "not good enough as a business product to warrant much consideration".[3]

Compute! in 1989 stated that "Though not a speed demon" like AppleWorks Classic, the GS version "isn't as slow as many had feared"; although a fast typist could still outrun the computer's display, it performed better than other Apple IIGS software.[5] Although many AppleWorks Classic users bought the GS version, with reportedly 35,000 copies sold in the first three weeks, the magazine warned that they "must forget virtually everything they've learned ... What a pain".[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Evans, Jonny (August 15, 2007). "Apple cans AppleWorks". Macworld UK. Retrieved August 15, 2007.
  2. ^ a b c de Peyster, Deborah; Statt, Paul (September 1986). "Extras for the //x". inCider. p. 14. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Renne, Mark (December 10, 1984). "AppleWorks". InfoWorld. pp. 50–51. Retrieved February 7, 2015.
  4. ^ Apple II History Archived April 4, 2005, at the Wayback Machine AppleWorks page: Apple's "Promotion" of AppleWorks (Retrieved on June 13, 2009)
  5. ^ a b c d Keizer, Gregg (March 1989). "Apple II". Compute!. p. 58. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
  6. ^ a b "II On II". Compute!'s Apple Applications. December 1987. p. 8. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  7. ^ "September 1986 issue". inCider. September 1986. pp. 62, 63, 64, 71, 73, 81, 105, 110, 115, 121, inside cover. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
  8. ^ AppleWorks. Retrieved on July 17, 2013.
  9. ^ AppleWorks 2.0 - scan of original box, disks & packing list Apple Users Group (Sydney) Disk Collection
  10. ^ 15 Amazing Computing Rarities of the 1990s. (April 17, 2011). Retrieved on July 17, 2013.
  11. ^ Keizer, Gregg (December 1987). "Editor's Notes". Compute!'s Apple Applications. pp. 4–5. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  12. ^ AppleWorks GS. Retrieved on July 17, 2013.
  13. ^ a b c "A Brief History of ClarisWorks".
  14. ^ "AppleWorks 6: Getting Started" (PDF). p. 31.
  15. ^ "AppleWorks 6: Getting Started" (PDF). p. 18.
  16. ^ "AppleWorks 6: Getting Started" (PDF). p. 2.
  17. ^ Jade, Charles (August 15, 2007). "RIP AppleWorks". Ars Technica. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  18. ^ a b Christopher Breen, "Last call for AppleWorks users", Macworld, June 29, 2011 (accessed Feb 3, 2013)
  19. ^ "EazyDraw Support". Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  20. ^ "AppleWorks Users Group (AWUG), iWork Users Group (iWUG)". Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  21. ^ "Abandoning AppleWorks". Archived from the original on July 15, 2011. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  22. ^ Ciraolo, Michael (October–November 1985). "Top Software / A List of Favorites". II Computing. p. 51. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  23. ^ Cmar, Karen A. (December 1984). "Appleworks: An Integrated Office Product". BYTE (review). pp. A18. Retrieved October 23, 2013.
  24. ^ Keizer, Gregg (April 1989). "Apple II". Compute!. p. 54. Retrieved July 2, 2014.

External links[edit]