Early Days – Software

As anyone who used personal computers in the early 1980’s knows, back then all software was loaded by floppy disk drive (the original 5 ¼ inch) into the internal memory (RAM or Random Access Memory) of the computer each time you used the software. And, of course, RAM was limited. In the case of my Apple II+ it was 48K!

At that time I used an Apple at my office as a new academic administrator mostly using a word processor (Apple Writer at first, then what I thought was much better, Word Juggler) but also worked briefly with the early spreadsheet software, VisiCalc.

At home, I used the word processor and spreadsheets, but early on, mostly played games.

I don’t recall when Apple Works first came out, but that more or less revolutionized my use of productivity software as that single program included word processor, spreadsheet, and database components. For many years, that was my standard. As I recall, I also had a hard drive by the mid-1980’s.

In the early 1990’s with the invention of the World Wide Web, many new products became available to take advantage of it. The earliest browser, Mosaic, was primitive but far better than the other options for searching online. In the years that followed I tried many different software offerings. Development was so fast that upgrades and new ideas meant constantly experimenting with the possibilities.

Sometime in the 1990’s a kind of all-in-one product was introduced call the Internet Suite. Several developers took the concept of including browser, newsgroup reader, HTML editor, and email system all in one package. I used Netscape Navigator that became Netscape Communicator, SeaMonkey, MSN Explorer, and a few others as I explored what I liked.

Eventually, by the late 1990’s, I was using Pegasus mail as the supported email software at work so used it almost exclusively at home as well. I found Hot Dog by Sausage Software the best HTML editor at that time and used it for a while when I had my own Web page.

In the office productivity universe back then, Novell was the one we used at my college, probably because our whole fiber optic network on campus was run by the Novell system. We used WordPerfect and Quattro Pro and used the Corel Presentations for public presentations. By about 2000, we were beginning to also support Microsoft Office, so one of the tech support people did presentations to teach us how to use it to its full potential.

On a business trip to the Seattle area in 1995, a group of us academic administrators went on a tour of the Microsoft facilities and were each given CDs with the newly released Windows 95 and Microsoft Office. So, I installed Windows 95 and started using Office some at home.

My next job in 2001 moved me into the Microsoft world almost exclusively, even though I really preferred the Novell products. That college was migrating to Microsoft servers for their network and decided their software was a better fit for it.

I have used Microsoft Office ever since, although about a year ago (now retired and no conflict with work expectations) we moved our email use to Thunderbird (Outlook 2016 was acting up) and browser to Firefox (better security) exclusively. I’ve stuck with Word, Excel, and Access, although I tried OpenOffice, now LibreOffice, and did not like them much. I use GoogleDocs some, but only for certain things when I want to share editing.

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