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How big was the original CP/M version of WordStar? As in, the size of the program itself? Presumably it was in the low tens of kilobytes (I don't think it's possible to cram a practical word processor into less than 10K) but I'm interested in an actual figure.

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    Just as an aside, but SpeedScript on my C-64 weighs in at a mere 4,864 bytes. Back in the day, I used SpeedScript for everything - so it is definitely possible to cram a full featured word processor in under 10k. – Geo... Jul 29 '18 at 10:40
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    First you have to define "practical word processor". – Will Hartung Jul 29 '18 at 14:04
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    The Exidy Sorcerer had an 8 kbyte Word Processor PAC in ROM. The biggest limitation by today's standards was that only the default font was supported, so your document couldn't have multiple fonts in multiple sizes. Also, IIRC, the documented had to fit in RAM, limiting its size to 32 or 48 kbytes (depending on how much RAM your machine had). That said, I liked it. Compared to its main competition, typewriters, it was pretty powerful. The developer made an expanded cp/m version available for many machines, but I can't remember the commercial name. – RichF Jul 29 '18 at 15:14
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    Fixed spaced fronts greatly reduced the code a word processor needed. – Ian Ringrose Aug 7 '18 at 12:31
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    Computer Concepts Wordwise for the BBC micro and Electric Pencil for the TRS-80 both weighed in at less than 10K, You can make surprisingly complex applications fit into small memory footprints by coding in assembly. – ConcernedOfTunbridgeWells Aug 18 '18 at 11:44
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The oldest version I have disk images for is 0.87 and the file sizes are: (although the WSU.COM creates WS.COM files that crash to the > prompt)

WSU.COM     29696 (the install program is embedded into the WSU.COM file)
WSMSGS.COM  14464

The earliest version I have that the install works is 0.93 and those files sizes are:

INSTALL.COM 16128
WSU.COM     29568
WSMSGS.COM  19328
OVERVIEW.WS (or EXAMPLE.TXT) 13440

Also WordMaster (basically a text editor) and WordStar (a word processor) are not the same program, so you can't compare the two as far as the sizes go. WordStar succeeded WordMaster. Both were written by John Robbins Barnaby.

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    No need to apologise for answering an old question; doing so is very much welcome. – user3840170 Nov 2 '20 at 5:01
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How big was the original CP/M version of WordStar?

The oldest copy of WordStar (or Wordmaster) I could find is 1.01 (but with a date of 1980) sizing

30,080 bytes for WS
20,992 bytes for WSMSGS

Which both seem rather high, as Wordmaster, before being renamed to WordStar, did fit into mere 10 KiB. One of the core features of WordStar was its organization as overlays, thus the used memory might be lower.

I don't think it's possible to cram a practical word processor into less than 10k

That might quite depend on your value for 'practical'. I can quite well think of a full screen word processor that can be cramped in way less than 10 KiB. As said, Wordmaster is just 10 KiB. And DR's TEX (where Wordmaster is somewhat based on) only uses 8 KiB.


It's worth to keep in mind that even professional machines at the time (pre 1980) often only hat 16 KiB of RAM - full 64 KiB was rather rare. So size was even more a goal.

Ofc RAM could be saved by making machine specific version using existing ROM routines (CP/M didn't really offer much here) - even more so by using a Program ROM. Examples may be:

History repeated (somewhat) with home computers and their small memory. A great example might be SpeedScript for C64 and VC-20. While needing an 8 KiB RAM expansion on the VIC (VIC-1110), the program itself was only about 5 KiB, leaving 3 KiB for text (The other 5 KiB were needed vor variables, screen and text buffer).

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    I'd assume the CP/M Turbo Pascal editor (with its subset of Wordstar commands) both counts as practical and would be around the range of 10K, given that the compiler and space both for the source and compiled program where in memory in addition to the editor. But one would have to go through the disassembly to find out the exact size. – dirkt Jul 29 '18 at 4:58
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    "I don't think it's possible to cram a practical word processor into less than 10k". From memory the original Wordwise (BBC micro) fitted into an 8k EPROM and Wordwise Plus requied 16k. Both were practical word processors. – abligh Jul 29 '18 at 6:27
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    Tasword, the most popular word processor for the ZX81 ... ran on a ZX81, which is to say in 16KB RAM total, including space for the screen display memory and the document, and without the ability to resort to overlays due to there being no disk storage. Sure, it was pretty limited compared to what Wordstar could do, but it managed to work for many applications. Specifications from adverts suggest it could handle documents with up to 300 lines of text ... 300 x 32 = about 9K, so the program must have used less than 7K. – Jules Jul 29 '18 at 7:48
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    DR's TEX doesn't have an editor, though. It's a runoff-like text formatter. – scruss Jul 29 '18 at 15:29
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    @abligh Another such example is the Exidy Sorcerer Word Processor Pac, an 8k ROM cartridge for this underrated z-80 machine. It was a really fine program which eventually grew up into the cross-platform word processor, Spellbinder. – RichF Nov 2 '20 at 4:36

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