"Disc space -- the final frontier!"
APPLICATION PACKAGE REVIEW: 1ST WORD PLUS 4.0 BY COMPO
by Richard Karsmakers
If you're used to reading quality reviews - and long ones too -
I think this rather shorter article, basically a collection of
remarks, will disappoint you.
Right from the start of the ST age, "1st Word Plus" has been the
most popular word processor. It started off, I guess, somewhere
late 1985 with the braingrindingly slow "1st Word" (note the lack
of "Plus"). It went through numerous version changes once named
"1st Word Plus", some of which even entailed the support of
different graphics file formats and the like. However, version
3.20TT was the latest version for quite a while. I seem to recall
having gotten mine somewhere in 1990.
Where "1st Word Plus" had fallen asleep, the market was preyed
upon by programs the likes of "Protext", "Le Redacteur" and
numerous others. More often than not these programs were much
better than "1st Word Plus". Now, finally, a new version of the
golden oldie has been released - version 4.0 (this actual review
is of 4.02).
Actually, this new version made by Compo software has nothing to
do with the previous versions other than its name. None of the
original developers were involved, and GST has nothing more to do
with it. Although "1st Word Plus" format files can be imported,
it isn't possible to have versions 3.xx load a 4.xx text file.
German and Dutch versions of the program have appeared; an
English version is rather unlikely ever to occur, unless some
freak ever does a kindof not entirely legal translation of the
program and its resource file (which will be difficult to say the
least, as most of the text is stored in some kind of compressed
If I tell you that I am writing this review with my faithful
version 3.20TT version of the program, that will probably give
you somewhat of an indication as to what I think of 4.xx. A
highly idiosyncratic opinion, I might add. Not that it's bad, not
at all as a matter of fact. But I think, being the conservative
bastard I am, that I would really have liked the original program
to have been further developed. The way it is, "1st Word Plus"
4.xx seems more like a marketing gimmick - it's just a really
decent but totally new word processor that the name "1st Word
Plus" was bought for to give it some kind of status or supposed
credibility it would otherwise have lacked.
I have reviewed numerous word processors in my ST NEWS career,
including titles such as "Word Perfect", "Protext" and "Le
Redacteur". No program was a clumsy as "Worst Perfect" (sorry for
that pun) and no program was as extensive as "Protext". I would
have fallen in love with "Protext" if it hadn't been for that
weird bug (a "disk may be damaged" with no damaged disk) in
connection with supplementary dictionaries. As it is, however, I
have all these programs on my hard disk somewhere but I only
really use "1st Word Plus". With "Tempus" not working in Falcon-
specific resolutions I even do all previous "Tempus" work in "1st
Word Plus" (3.xx) now.
But I stray.
"1st Word Plus" 4.xx is a good word processor. The user
interface, totally GEM-based, looks utterly slick and user-
friendly, too. A shame that it's in Dutch - I would have
preferred English at all times, and I assume most of you would,
too. You can switch the keyboard shortcuts to Atari-standard
English, though, so it appears more thought has gone into the
program than would seem to be the case at first sight.
Versions 4.xx leave behind some of the things that were left to
wish for in 3.xx. A short summary will say more than a thousand
O Up to 9 documents can be in memory (instead of 4).
O There is support for macros. These even support recording
dialog box events and those within the built-in file
O Extra info is stored in a text file (such as name of
creator, inititation date, dictionary specs - no password
O The "find" dialog can now specify "whole words only", it can
count occurrences, and can restrict operations to a block.
O Other programs can be launched, and accessories supporting
the XACC protocol can be selected by keyboard shortcuts.
O You can print a document to RS232 or to a disk file.
O Help options are more extensive.
O You can use multiple fonts and font sizes.
O You can instruct the program to make a list of contents.
O Automatic text file saving is catered for.
O The date can be added on the cursor position, in various
O A document can be printed in several columns.
O Files can be loaded or saved in a variety of ASCII formats
(including that of PC, Macintosh, Archimedes and Amiga).
O You can make a mailing. For this you needed the separate
"1st mail" program with "1st Word Plus" versions 3.xx and
O An excellent manual including glossary, index, examples and
You see that "1st Word Plus" 3.xx is a league ahead of its
ancestors. I think it's about as good as "Le Redacteur", though
clearly inferior to the mighty "Protext" beast. Remarkably, the
quality of a word processor seems to be reflected by the amount
of space it takes up on hard disk ("1st Word Plus" 3.20 TT 0.5
Mb; "Le Redacteur" 1.2 Mb; "1st Word Plus" 4.02 1.3 Mb; "Protext"
5.52 1.7 Mb). There really isn't much more to say.
Concluding, I guess it's just a case of getting used to, but
still I'd rather stick with version 3.xx. I can truly do just
about anything with the old version, a knowledge that is replaced
by sheer insecurity when working with 4.xx. My biggest temptation
ever, "Protext", is a lot more powerful than anything comparable
available for the Atari format, including "1st Word Plus" 4.xx.
Although "1st Word Plus" 4.xx has a lot going for it, it also has
its disadvantages - it only works on 1.5 Mb of memory and up (4
Mb if you want to work with a laser printer) and the
documentation persists in not mentioning anything at all about
either "MultiTOS" or TOS 4.0x versions.
For those of you who have yet to develop a semi-sentient
relationship with your first word processor, "1st Word Plus" 4.xx
may be a very good choice, primarily because it's quite a bit
cheaper than "Protext" (and you can add that "Protext" doesn't
use GEM and isn't WYSIWYG).
For me it's just a extra bit of confusion now "1st Word Plus
format" might mean any of the two - totally different - formats.
I would like to add that distribution of this program is handled
by Compo in the Netherlands (for the Dutch version) and in
Germany (for the German version). The people who did the older
"1st Word Plus" versions, GST, have nothing whatsoever to do with
it any more.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.