Living With a Computer

If I were looking for a simple program, I’d stick with The Electric Pencil—which I am forced to do in any case, since nothing new on the market will run in my poor obsolescent SOL. Or I might choose Magic Wand, which is simpler to use than many of today’s complicated programs. If you’re looking for sophistication, I’d suggest you pass by WordStar to choose between two other programs. One of them, Perfect Writer, is available by mail from Perfect Software, Inc., 865 Conger Street, Eugene,Oregon 97402. (The other programs are available from computer stores for prices between $200 an ‘ d $400.) It is so sophisticated that one might as well be operating a nuclear reactor, but it does things I’ve seen nowhere else. For example, it allows you to divide the screen with a horizontal line, display one document in the top half and another in the bottom, and move material from one document to the other. It also has a bigger variety of printing formats than most other programs.

The other choice would be Scripsit 2. 0, which is put out by Radio Shack and runs on its TRS-80 Model II computer. (Confusing nomenclature: the TRS-80 Models I and III are the cut-rate versions, while the Model II is the serious business machine.) I had snobbishly resisted Radio Shack because of the low-rent appearance of its products, but I was forced to the conclusion that, all in all, Scripsit is the best program on the market. To give one example, it allows you to program up to twenty keys with your own commands. If you press one key, it might print your return address in the upper corner of the page; press another, and it can perform a search-and-replace routine you often use. Like many other programs, Scripsit can also include a spelling-checker, which proofreads documents and is a godsend to the careless typist.

My Picks: If money were no object, I’d buy an IBM Displaywriter, which is the prettiest of all the models and has the simplest commands.

Money being an object, I would vacillate helplessly among the TRS-80 Model II with an extra 8″ disk-drive and Scripsit 2.0, the Xerox 820 with two 8″ drives and Perfect Writer, and the DECmate. And yet, a year from now, when its software has caught up with it, I’d expect to be choosing the IBM Personal Computer. If I received a small bequest, I’d also buy an Osborne I—if the bequest were large, an Otrona—to take on the road. For any of these systems (not including the Osborne), I’d spend no more than $6, 000, or half as much as for the Displaywriter.

Godspeed as you follow this advice; meanwhile, I’ll be spending nothing, sticking with SOL and The Electric Pencil, and hoping for a world in which my sons can grow up to have a better computer than their father had.