This week I took a little trip down memory lane when a friend posted a meme or something about Stephen King’s Wang word processor in the 1980s.
That was early for me, but sometime in 1993 or 1994 I bought my first word processor. Not a general purpose computer with a word processor, but a Brother Word Processor. It was substantially less profit-generating for me than King’s Wang. Then again, it wasn’t a five-figure investment, either. Maybe $250, certainly no more than $300. At 23 or 24, though, that was a major investment. I’ve owned cars that cost less.Really it was a glorified typewriter with a monochrome CRT screen and the capability to save documents to a floppy disk.
It looked a bit like this Brother WP-3410 that was posted on Reddit’s r/retrobattlestations subreddit. I don’t think it looked quite like that – if memory serves, the floppy drive was on the side and not in the front of the keyboard.
It was quite rudimentary, but it beat the hell out of using a typewriter. We had a PC in the Student Government office at my college that I could use, but I was not familiar with WordPerfect and I needed something at home to write papers on anyway.
You could use it as a typewriter, too. I think I used it to “lay out” some columns for our so-called underground newspaper at ECC. I’d compose a column and then Tetris a bunch of different columns into shape, then glue everything up and take it to the copy shop to make copies. (This, for anybody who wonders, is where my nickname originated.)
I’d love to find a used model and write a blog post or two on it for old times’ sake. None of the models currently on eBay look quite right. This listing looks really close, but probably a year or two too old. Somehow I went from hunt-and-peck on the Brother keyboard to touch typing. This was good, because I had a bad habit of waiting until the last possible minute to actually write papers.
In the end, it was phased out in favor of the used PC my dad bought me as a graduation present when I got my 2-year degree from ECC. An Intel 486 66MHz with a generous 8MB of RAM and 212MB of storage and a CD-ROM drive, loaded with Windows 3.11 and MS-DOS 6.22 (and DOOM, of course). Not to mention an IBM keyboard that probably violated noise regulations.
Anyway, I’m glad I stumbled on the King post. I have fond memories of banging out papers on that machine. It served me really well.