Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2003/02/25

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Subject: [Leica] Kaypro and Atex and Xy, Oh My!
From: Peter Klein <>
Date: Tue, 25 Feb 2003 09:08:41 -0800 (PST)

Ah, those were the days!  When I started working in computers in the early
80s, PCs were not very affordable, and neither was software.  For my
personal use, I picked up a used Kaypro bundled with, among many other
things, WordStar, and was in hog heaven.  The Kaypro was a beautiful,
industrial-strength machine.

I rapidly got into search and replace arcana and began augmenting WordStar
with ProKey macros. Even today, I still use a text editor (TSE) that has
the basic WordStar Ctrl-key commands, and I programmed some of the two-key
commands in--they're just in my fingers.

I later went to work for Quicksoft, which made PC-Write.  The text-hacking
skills I'd aquired on they Kaypro with WordStar became very useful when
translated into PC-Write.  Brit Hume (now of CNN, then of ABC) and Jim
Mitchell of WHAS-TV in Louisville used to call me frequently for tips on
massaging all manner of alien files into usability.

I then graduated to XyWrite III Plus, which was essentially Atex for the
PC.  I liked it so much that I was still using it for my own writing three
years ago. XyWrite was probably the best program for a text hound ever
written. It had a powerful programming and macro language called XPL that
was as arcane as Marc James Small's recent treatises on auto electronics,
and I say that with the deepest respect to both.  What you could *do* with
XPL!  I wrote programs to turn XyWrite files into Ventura Publisher files
and back again, and created a sort of DosKey command recaller-editor for
the XyWrite command line.

I was saddened to read that in the early 1990s(?)there were a number of
carpal-tunnel related lawsuits against Atex.  There were accusations that
the keyboard was very bad, ergonomically, and it had lead to many
injuries.  Does anyone know what the outcome of those suits were?

XyWrite is dead, as far as I know, having been bought and ruined by IBM,
and then sold to The Technology Group, where Ver. 4 was somewhat repaired.
Too bad. There are still a substantial number of writers and journalists
who use it, and its academic brother NotaBene.  But knowing XyWrite won't
get you a job any more :-( Reaction to it today is sorta like Kyle's story
of rockgrrrl model and the film camera.  Sic transit gloria mundi.

- --Peter

Bill Harting wrote:
> As you were leaving in 1990, I was just beginning to paginate with
> Atex, after 12 or 13 years of editing with it. Creaky it was, but it
> was a fine editing and production system.

B.D. wrote:
> It seemed so, well, 'modern' at the time...that being 1980...It seemed
> pretty damn creaky by the time I left in 1990, but then I wasn't
> involved in pagination or any of the fancy stuff, and for writing and
> line-editing, it worked just fine - when it worked....(Of course if I
> never again here the words "the system's down," it will be too soon.

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