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Original author(s)Charles Brannon
Developer(s)Compute! Publishing
Initial releaseJanuary 1984; 38 years ago (1984-01)[1]
Stable release
3.2 / May 1987; 35 years ago (1987-05)[2]
Written in6502 assembly language,[1]
Turbo Pascal[3] (MS-DOS)
PlatformVIC-20, Commodore 64 / 128, Apple II, Atari 8-bit, MS-DOS
TypeWord processor

SpeedScript is a word processor originally printed as a type-in MLX machine language listing in 1984-85 issues of Compute! and Compute!'s Gazette magazines. Approximately 5 KB in length, it provided many of the same features as commercial word processing packages of the 8-bit era, such as PaperClip and Bank Street Writer. Versions were published for the Apple II, Commodore 64 and 128, Atari 8-bit family, VIC-20, and MS-DOS.


In April 1983 Compute! published Scriptor, a word processor written by staff writer Charles Brannon in BASIC and assembly language, as a type-in program for the Atari 8-bit family.[4] In January 1984 version 1.0 of his new word processor SpeedScript appeared in Compute!'s Gazette for the Commodore 64 and VIC-20.[1] 1.1 appeared in Compute!'s Second Book of Commodore 64,[5] 2.0 on Gazette Disk in May 1984,[6][7] and 3.0 in Compute! in March and April 1985.[8][9] Corrections that updated 3.0 to 3.1 appeared in May 1985,[10] and the full 3.1 version appeared in a book published by Compute!, SpeedScript: The Word Processor for the Commodore 64 and VIC-20.[11]

POKEs for the Vic and 64, to update 3.0 or 3.1 to 3.2, appeared in the December 1985 Compute![12] and the full 3.2 version was available on the January 1986 Compute! Disk.[2] The POKEs for the 64 were also included in the full SpeedScript 3.2 article when it was reprinted in the May 1987 Compute!'s Gazette issue and the full program, plus three additional utilities, were available on the May 1987 Gazette Disk.[13]

SpeedScript 3.2, alongside SpeedCalc, Fontmaker, and five other utility programs, was included in the special Best of COMPUTE! & GAZETTE[14] disk/magazine in 1988.

Also of note was the Reader's Feedback column in the January 1986 Compute! which had POKEs to eliminate the DISK or TAPE? question.[15] There was, however, a typo in the listing and that was corrected in the March 1986 CAPUTE! column.[16]

Ports of V3 for the Atari 8-bit family and the Apple II were printed in Compute! in May[17] and June 1985 respectively.[18][2] SpeedScript was written entirely in assembly language, and Compute! Publications later released book/disk combinations that contained the complete commented source code (as well as the machine language in MLX format) for each platform.[19][20][21]

A version of SpeedScript for MS-DOS was created in 1988 by Randy Thompson and published in book form by Compute! Books.[3] This version was written in Turbo Pascal with portions written in assembly language, and added incremental new features to the word processor such as additional printer commands, full cursor-control (to take advantage of the PC's Home, End, PgUp, and PgDn keys), and a native 80-column mode.

80-column updates[edit]

The original versions of SpeedScript were designed for the 40-column Commodore 64 and the 22-column VIC-20. When the Commodore 128 was released, featuring an 80-column display, many users requested an updated version of SpeedScript to take advantage of this new capability. In June 1986, Compute!'s Gazette published SpeedScript-80, a short patch for SpeedScript 3.0 or higher, which enabled the use of the VDC's new 80-column capabilities on a Commodore 128 running in 64 mode.[22] However, this did not take advantage of the C128's expanded memory, and a few minor commands were eliminated due to the alterations to the existing code.

SpeedScript 128

A native version for the C128 called SpeedScript 128, written by Bob Kodadek, was finally released in October 1987 Compute!'s Gazette. This version eliminated the problems of the patch and took full advantage of the C128's 80-column screen, its expanded memory and the enhanced keyboard.[23] A later update (SS128-Plus) appeared in September 1989 Compute!'s Gazette, adding full text justification, tab setting, and online help.[24]

In December 1987, Compute!'s Gazette published Instant 80, a utility for the C64 version of SpeedScript that allowed 80-column document previewing (though not editing) on a standard C64. This was done by using half-width characters on a high-resolution graphics screen.[25]


Although SpeedScript did not include a built-in spell checker, additional utilities were soon published. In December 1985, SpeedCheck was published in Compute!'s Gazette.[26] This external utility accepted SpeedScript files (as well as those from compatible word processors, such as PaperClip) and spell-checked them against a user-defined dictionary. An enhanced 80-column version for the C128, SpeedCheck 128, was published in September 1988.[27]

Another utility, ScriptSave, was developed to provide automatic saving functionality to the Commodore 64 version of SpeedScript 3.0.[28] This program would set up a timer program to save documents to disk, before loading and running SpeedScript itself.

Several additional utilities were published in the May 1987 issue of Compute!'s Gazette along with SpeedScript 3.2. ScriptRead[29] was developed to identify and preview SpeedScript documents on a disk, with the ability to scratch any files no longer needed. This was an important addition as on a single-drive system there would be no way to save work if the disk became full. SpeedSearch[30] provided full-text search of all SpeedScript documents on a disk, returning a count of how many times the searched word or phrase was used in each document. Date and Time Stamper[31] introduces a program to the disk drive that adds time stamps to files on disk, then executes SpeedScript.


In a review of four word processors, The Transactor in May 1986 praised SpeedScript as "extremely sophisticated", citing its large text buffer, logical cursor navigation, and undo command. While criticizing its lack of right justification, the magazine concluded that SpeedScript was not only "an easy winner" among budget-priced word processors, but also "a serious contender even when compared with the higher priced programs".[32]

SpeedScript was sufficiently popular to receive coverage in reference works, such as the "Wordprocessing Reference Guide" of Karl Hildon's Inner Space Anthology[33] and Mitchell Waite's The Official Book for the Commodore 128.[34] Columbia University's Kermit software for Commodore computers supported transferring SpeedScript files.[35]


SpeedScript 3.0 for the VIC-20
SpeedScript 3.0 for the Atari 8-bit family


  1. ^ a b c Brannon, Charles (January 1984). "SpeedScript Word Processor For Commodore 64 And VIC-20". COMPUTE!'s Gazette. Greensboro, North Carolina: COMPUTE! Publications (7): 38–59. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Mitchener, Leo (June 1986). "SpeedScript's Lineage". Compute! (Letters to the Editor) (73): 11. ISSN 0194-357X. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  3. ^ a b Thompson, Randy (1989). PC SpeedScript. Radnor, Pennsylvania: COMPUTE! Books. ISBN 0-87455-166-8.
  4. ^ Brannon, Charles (April 1983). "Scriptor: An Atari Word Processor". Compute! (35): 56–70. ISSN 0194-357X. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  5. ^ SpeedScript's Lineage; Pg 11 June 1986 Compute! https://archive.org/details/1986-06-compute-magazine/page/n11/mode/2up
  6. ^ The SpeedScript Family; Pg 71 May 1987 Compute!'s Gazette https://archive.org/details/computes.gazette/Compute_Gazette_Issue_47_1987_May/page/n71/mode/2up
  7. ^ Gazette Disk Premiere ad Pg 33 April 1984 Compute!'s Gazette https://archive.org/details/1984-04-computegazette/page/n33/mode/2up
  8. ^ Brannon, Charles (March 1985). "SpeedScript 3.0: All Machine Language Word Processor For Commodore 64". Compute! (58): 123–133. ISSN 0194-357X. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  9. ^ Brannon, Charles (April 1985). "SpeedScript 3.0: All Machine Language Word Processor For Expanded VIC-20". Compute! (59): 100–106. ISSN 0194-357X. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  10. ^ "Capute!". Compute! (Column) (60): 99. May 1985. ISSN 0194-357X. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  11. ^ SpeedScript: The Word Processor for the Commodore 64 and VIC-20 https://archive.org/details/Computes_Speedscript
  12. ^ Brannon, Charles (December 1985). "SpeedScript 3.0 Revisited". Compute! (67): 90–91. ISSN 0194-357X. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  13. ^ Brannon, Charles (May 1987). "SpeedScript 3.2 For The Commodore 64". COMPUTE!'s Gazette (47): 54–71. ISSN 0737-3716. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  14. ^ "Compute! Gazette Issue 1988 Best of". December 1988.
  15. ^ "Compute! Magazine Issue 068". January 1986.
  16. ^ "Compute! Magazine Issue 070". March 1986.
  17. ^ Brannon, Charles (May 1985). "SpeedScript 3.0: All Machine Language Word Processor For Atari". Compute! (60): 103–111. ISSN 0194-357X. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  18. ^ Brannon, Charles; Martin, Kevin (June 1985). "SpeedScript 3.0: All Machine Language Word Processor For Apple". Compute! (61): 116–123. ISSN 0194-357X. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  19. ^ Brannon, Charles (1985). SpeedScript, the Word Processor for the Commodore 64 and VIC-20. Greensboro, North Carolina: COMPUTE! Publications. ISBN 0-94238-694-9.
  20. ^ Brannon, Charles (1985). SpeedScript, the Word Processor for Atari Computers. Greensboro, North Carolina: COMPUTE! Publications. ISBN 0-87455-003-3.
  21. ^ Brannon, Charles; Martin, Kevin (1985). Speedscript, the Word Processor for Apple Personal Computers. Greensboro, North Carolina: COMPUTE! Publications. ISBN 0-87455-000-9.
  22. ^ Heimarck, Todd (June 1986). "SpeedScript-80 For The 128". COMPUTE!'s Gazette (36): 77–78. ISSN 0737-3716. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  23. ^ Kodadek, Robert (October 1987). "SpeedScript 128". COMPUTE!'s Gazette (52): 22–52. ISSN 0737-3716. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  24. ^ Gruber, Michael (September 1989). "SpeedScript 128 Plus". COMPUTE!'s Gazette (75): 38–44. ISSN 0737-3716. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  25. ^ Mackinnon, Glen (December 1987). "Instant 80: True 80-Column Preview For SpeedScript". COMPUTE!'s Gazette (54): 76. ISSN 0737-3716. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  26. ^ Cowper, Ottis T. (December 1985). "SpeedCheck: An Expandable Spelling Checker For The Commodore 64 And 128". COMPUTE!'s Gazette (30): 64–70. ISSN 0737-3716. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  27. ^ Smith, Larry D (September 1988). "SpeedCheck 128: A Spelling Checker For SpeedScript 128". COMPUTE!'s Gazette (63): 60–61. ISSN 0737-3716. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  28. ^ Lambert, J. Blake (May 1985). "ScriptSave: Automatic Disk Saves For Commodore 64 SpeedScript 3.0". Compute! (60): 84–85. ISSN 0194-357X. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  29. ^ Childress, Buck (May 1987). "ScriptRead". COMPUTE!'s Gazette (47): 77. ISSN 0737-3716. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  30. ^ St. Clair, Tony (May 1987). "SpeedSearch". COMPUTE!'s Gazette (47): 75. ISSN 0737-3716. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  31. ^ Kodadek, Bob (May 1987). "SpeedScript Date and Time Stamper". COMPUTE!'s Gazette (47): 76. ISSN 0737-3716. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  32. ^ Bose, Ranjan (May 1986). "A Comparison of Four Word Processors". The Transactor. 6 (6): 72–74. ISSN 0827-2530. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  33. ^ Hildon, Karl J. H. (March 1985). The Complete Commodore Inner Space Anthology. Milton, Ontario: Transactor Publishing. pp. 17–19. ISBN 0-9692086-0-X. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  34. ^ Waite, Mitchell; Lafore, Robert; Volpe, Jerry (1985). "The C64 Mode". The Official Book for the Commodore 128 Personal Computer. Howard W. Sams & Co. p. 76. ISBN 0-672-22456-9.
  35. ^ Sullivan, Kent (1 January 1992). "File Transfers: Transferring Files". Commodore 64/128 Kermit User's Guide. Kermit Project, Columbia University. p. 18. Retrieved 23 February 2016.