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75 votes

Why did fonts in Windows 1.01's Write application look so poor?

Your images appear to have been generated via emulation, with heavy anti-aliasing that doesn't show what it looked like in reality. Here's Windows 3.1 Write in native VGA resolution without any image ...
Bruce Abbott's user avatar
  • 6,703
69 votes
Accepted

Why did older computers and OSes use UPPER case instead of lower case?

TL;DR: Upper Case Is the Default for Latin Script. Latin script is based on upper case and designed around that. Lower case is a later add-on (see below) for cursive. Default use-case for Latin script ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
  • 228k
53 votes
Accepted

History behind the text column restriction

Old COBOL standards were based around 80-column punched cards, and columns beyond 71 (or 72) were reserved for line numbers. They were little used, but a numbered deck, if dropped, could be sorted by ...
Mick's user avatar
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45 votes

Why did fonts in Windows 1.01's Write application look so poor?

Because those were low-resolution bitmap fonts. In Windows 1.01, most fonts were monochrome bitmap fonts, and not particularly high-resolution at that. (There were CONTINUOUSSCALING ‘plotter’ fonts ...
user3840170's user avatar
  • 23.2k
31 votes

Is there any text to speech program that will run on an 8- or 16-bit CPU?

Superior Software's "Speech" was a pure software speech synthesizer that ran on the BBC Micro (which used a 2MHz 6502A processor, so had slightly more raw processing power than typical 8-bit ...
occipita's user avatar
  • 2,391
30 votes
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Why did the original Apple //e have two sets of inverse video characters?

Why did the original Apple //e have two sets of inverse uppercase characters? Simple: To allow lower case inverse letters. It's all about the clever way Woz arranged the original II's single ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
  • 228k
28 votes
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Proportional fonts on 8-bit computers

Digital Research produced as one of their early attempts into graphical desktops (on their way to GEM) a basic portable graphics library - GSX. GSX did actually support proportional fonts, both in ...
tofro's user avatar
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25 votes

Executable ASCII files before x86?

If you go back a lot before the x86, this technique wasn't unusual at all. In fact, writing programs using printable letters and symbols was pretty much the norm for early computers, except that there ...
dirkt's user avatar
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24 votes

Is there any text to speech program that will run on an 8- or 16-bit CPU?

First, there is a major caveat. Most of the iconic early voice synthesizers were not purely software systems. For example, the classic DECTalk system, famously the voice of the late Stephen Hawking, ...
RETRAC's user avatar
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23 votes

Why did older computers and OSes use UPPER case instead of lower case?

I would venture to say that it stems primarily from the telegraph tradition, starting with Baudot (1870s) which eventually led to ITA2. Essentially 5 and 6 bit codes (arguably a 5-bit code with a ...
manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact's user avatar
22 votes
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Besides the VIC-20 did any other micros have fewer than 32 columns available for text mode?

The BASIC Programming cartridge for the Atari 2600 displayed twelve characters per line. The RCA 1802-based VIP used bitmap graphics rather than having a "text mode" as such, but the typical ...
supercat's user avatar
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22 votes
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What were the most popular text editors for MS-DOS in the 1980s?

There were many editors available for DOS, both standalone and included in development environments. I suspect that most developers using IDEs used their IDE’s built-in editor; those were perhaps the ...
Stephen Kitt's user avatar
22 votes

What were the most popular text editors for MS-DOS in the 1980s?

WordStar was one of the earliest and most popular word processing programs for CP/M and MS-DOS. One of the key features for a lot of people was the non-document mode. This did a few important things: ...
manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact's user avatar
21 votes
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Why are the | and ¦ keys labelled the wrong way around?

ASCII was designed from the start with usable subsets (for instance an uppercase subset representable with six bits, consisting of the four central columns) and international variants. SHARE (IBM ...
AProgrammer's user avatar
21 votes

Is there any text to speech program that will run on an 8- or 16-bit CPU?

There existed a Russian text-to-speech program written for the Elektronika BK-0010 in the early 1980s, whose length was 023500 bytes == 10048, mentioned in a list of application programs for the BK-...
Leo B.'s user avatar
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20 votes

What's the origin of terminating strings by setting the high bit of the last character?

Commodore BASIC 2.0 (originally from Microsoft), used in the VIC-20 and Commodore 64, stored its table of BASIC tokens this way too. Instead of true ASCII, these machines used PETSCII, where lower-...
Nimloth's user avatar
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20 votes
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What's the origin of terminating strings by setting the high bit of the last character?

The method was pretty common for small systems that had to do case-insensitive comparisons to user input or, simply, storage, of a lot of short strings (a standard case in BASIC interpreters). ...
tofro's user avatar
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17 votes
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What are the rules for Applesoft BASIC formatting for code?

This is an AppleSoft issue where it puts spaces either side of a token. PET/CBM BASIC (based off the same code base) doesn't do this. Tokenising ignores spaces, this means it can be difficult on the ...
PeterI's user avatar
  • 5,297
17 votes

History behind the text column restriction

On the basis that a picture is worth a thousand words, I include my scan of a punched card: As amply described in the other answers, it shows how the columns are visibly marked on the card for ...
Brian Tompsett - 汤莱恩's user avatar
17 votes

Proportional fonts on 8-bit computers

Just the first (of many) example of using proportional fonts on Commodore64: https://youtu.be/k2NRlsopoOU?t=441 You couldn't really use a proportional font on the Spectrum because the colour ...
lvd's user avatar
  • 10.8k
17 votes

History behind the text column restriction

In the old days, I remember we were told to never go beyond the 70'th column in the text editor (the actual value was usually something above 70, but less than 80). [...] If it makes a difference, ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
  • 228k
17 votes
Accepted

Which are the earliest real-time text editors?

I think the following early text editors meet your criteria: Brian Tolliver’s TVEdit (Stanford, 1965), based on Doug Engelbart’s earlier word processor; see On-line Text Editing: a Survey: TVEDIT ...
Stephen Kitt's user avatar
17 votes

Is there any text to speech program that will run on an 8- or 16-bit CPU?

Is the 68000 a 16-bit CPU? :) To some it is, and therefore Say, from 1985, for the Commodore Amiga counts. It can be found on the Workbench disk. For more reading, look up the narrator.device ...
knol's user avatar
  • 12.6k
16 votes

What's the origin of terminating strings by setting the high bit of the last character?

WordStar As noted here, WordStar set the 8th bit of the last character of each word. This was a key difference between Document mode and Non-Document mode. Non-Document mode also did not automatically ...
manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact's user avatar
16 votes
Accepted

Is there a common convention to describe the encoding of a legacy text file?

The closest thing to a universal convention (in the sense that it can be applied to any kind of text file, not necessarily universal adoption) that I know of is Emacs’ file-local variable declarations:...
user3840170's user avatar
  • 23.2k
15 votes

Is there any text to speech program that will run on an 8- or 16-bit CPU?

see: CZ+SK ZX SW archive In there are TTS engines for ZX Spectrum (1bit digital sound, no DAC, no FPU, no mul/div instructions, ~3.5 MHz 8bit Z80 CPU): Kecal 1.0 very simple asm, (portable to C/C++...
Spektre's user avatar
  • 7,326
15 votes

Is there a common convention to describe the encoding of a legacy text file?

When 8-bit codepages were in use, files were rarely transferred from one computer to another that used a different character set. So all files on the filesystem were assumed to contain text in the ...
Paul Humphreys's user avatar
15 votes

What were the most popular text editors for MS-DOS in the 1980s?

My favorite editor as a professional programmer in the DOS enthronement was E. The OP is mistaken in saying that E was not available until the 90s. True, it was not included with PC DOS until 1993, ...
RichF's user avatar
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15 votes
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How to decode mojibake in old Macintosh text files?

(Summarizing the various comments.) Filenames and text files on HFS disks are usually encoded with an Apple-specific character set, often Mac OS Roman. This particular disk uses a mix of that and ...
14 votes

Proportional fonts on 8-bit computers

Back in 1986, a company called Berkeley Softworks released a GUI desktop environment called GEOS for the Commodore 64. It was later ported to the Commodore 128, the Commodore Plus/4, and Apple II. ...
Jukka Aho's user avatar
  • 2,062

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