No Word for the Future

steampunk typewriter
Photo by Johnny Briggs on Unsplash
When I started college in 1985 (at 29 years old), we still used typewriters. It having started as a teaching school, we got a computer writing lab early on, in 1986, and I used the machines pretty much like a typewriter, drafting first by hand, until a pressing deadline forced me to discover the liberation of composing onscreen. So long typewriter!

We used WordPerfect on PCs.

Later that year, when I landed a job at GDW, we used MS Word on Macs. At home I had a PC, also using Word. I just found it more satisfying than WordPerfect.

When I moved to TSR, they gave me a choice: DOS PC with WordPerfect, or Mac with MS Word. I lied and said I didn’t know DOS (despite digging into PC innards at home). Just so I could keep using Word.

For the past 20 plus years I’ve continued using Word daily, absorbing its shortcuts, doing obscure search-and-replace functions, manipulating its layout options, and publishing to PDF for both etext and print.

Lately, though, I’ve become unfaithful to this long relationship. Drafting in Google Docs is sooo much more convenient. (Not tied to any one machine or OS, I can even access drafts by phone!) Scribus (open source) does a better job of layout, and can export to PDF/X1-a (a necessity for DriveThru/Lightning Source). And though a Microsoft 365 subscription isn’t terribly expensive, I could buy a big-ticket boardgame with that money instead.

Admittedly, it’s a bittersweet parting. So many memories wrapped up in those three and a half decades of MS Word. It’s time to go our separate ways. But we’ll always have Paris.

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