This writing is based on Pete Peterson, Almost Perfect , Prima Publishing, 1994. The book is out of print now, online version and archival print copies are available in any standard National Library.
Birth of product
In 1977 the word processor was a new subject. The word processing machines (like Wang) were basically typewriters equipped with a processor and memory, the cheapest of them costs $ 15 000 at that time. There are word processing computers : The screen display consisting of bristling codes, document needed to be reformatted before printing and user only discovered its appearance after printing.
Alan Ashton, a professor of computer delight in designing a program for word processing. He had previously written a program to play music through a computer and it allowed him to address the problems posed by real-time display.
Ashton produced a program that displays on screen the appearance of what would be printed, and scroll the text on the screen without interruption and not page by page. He abolished the distinction between edit, insert, and Create: The user could type throughout the document and insert text without having to change modes.
Launch WordPerfect in 1980
This program, developed and improved, and marketed by the company in 1980 SSI (established 1978). Its price was $ 5 500, so it was cheaper for a company to buy a software running on computer rather than a machine that used for word processing, but user had to be sure that the execution of the word processor will not slow down the computer, especially when used for accounting.
The first version of WordPerfect is quick and easy to use, but it only worked on computers Data General, under the operating system OSA and with a printer Diabolo 1650. During the following years, much of the programming work devoted to the adaptation of WordPerfect for various operating systems  and printers on the market.
On August 12, 1981 IBM released the PC. WordStar Micropro ; fate of the middle of 1982: the first word processor for PCs. WordStar is the transcript of a MS-DOS word processing program under CP / M (one of the first operating systems for personal computers).
Competition and deployment features
SSI is also launching in the development of word processing on PC. WordPerfect for the PC version was similar to Data General, but on a PC user do not have to worry about having multiple concurrent users. SSI introduced notes in footnotes and the spell checker. WordPerfect for PC comes out in November 18, 1982. It was suitable to Epson printer marketed by IBM at that time.
In 1983, Microsoft Word had less market than WordPerfect. WordPerfect fitted MS-DOS machines non-IBM (Victor 9000, DEC Rainbow, Tandy 2000, IT Professional etc.). And it is updated to reflect the arrival of new devices (printers, monitors, keyboards, hard drives). The product still had flaws: some printer drivers are buggy, the manual was not considered “professional.”
While the old printers gave the same width to each character, the new printers were ‘smart’ are capable of printing various types of characters and calculate the appropriate intervals. WordPerfect decided to place the instructions to the printers in a table located outside the program, which will adapt more easily to new printers. This solution is introduced in WordPerfect 3.0, capable of serving more than fifty types of printers.
ISS decided to set up a free telephone support for users. This measure did much to the success of the product. The service strengthened in spring 1990 by the creation of a “hold jockey”, who leaded the call on hold by distributing music, etc.
WordPerfect 4.0 in 1984 with the manual was improved, the installation was simpler, richer dictionary; adding notes at end of text and error handling is better. WordStar is still the leader but Micropro saw the branch on which he sat out WordStar 2000 that includes a break with the past and ergonomics has confounded most loyal customers of the product.
WordPerfect 4.1 released in fall 1985. It featured automatic TOC, automatic indexing, the ability to spread the footnotes page on successive pages, the numbering of paragraphs, the thesaurus, spelling improved.
The market share of WordPerfect improved. It took the advantage of mistakes of its competitors did: Wang decided to ignore the PC market to continue to produce its specialized machines, which resulted a fall. IBM, through the magic of his name, a good market share with this product DisplayWrite but remained below WordPerfect  . Micropro in the turnover of programmers was high, which prevented the accumulation of expertise. Lotus, the leading spreadsheet , misunderstands the word processing.
Microsoft was the only dangerous rival, his mastery of the operating system giving it a strategic advantage both commercially and in terms of engineering design.
SSI in 1986 took the name of WordPerfect Corporation. The arrival of the laser printer and the graphical user interface results in a change of rules that gives Microsoft the opportunity to catch up with WordPerfect.
It was necessary to rewrite parts of the program on printers and display on the screen now measures should be expressed in centimeters rather than in lines and spaces, and the system had to know the dimensions of each character in each type and i.e. load types of printers. In text mode, the computer screen consists of 25 lines of 80 characters, or 2000 boxes, it worked in graphics mode with 640 * 480 pixels, more than 300 000 elements: the screen display was slower .
It was also difficult to predict the strategic winner in the market of the GUI for PC: competitors were IBM TopView, Digital Research with Gem and Microsoft Windows. Release a version of WordPerfect for Windows would have provided support for Microsoft, which subsequently would be able to displace WordPerfect. SSI, unable to solve both these problems, will initially focussed on the laser printer. WordPerfect 5.0 was ready in May 1988.
The year 1987 and the design of WordPerfect 5.0
WordPerfect in 1987 had 30% of the market before Micropro to 16%, IBM and Microsoft at 13% to 11%. It shooted a commercial argument for the need for compatibility between the various documents produced by a company or by different companies: the world demanded a standard.
The strategy was to produce a version for every significant platform, then integrate WordPerfect with other important products on each platform: the PC market, with the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet; market VAX with All-in-One, etc..
The Wysiwyg involves not only the text bold and underlined, the ends of sentences and for the printed page as on, but also characters of the same style and size, footnotes and graphics page in the right place. It was not easy with MS-DOS did not provide many tools to treat the screen. Windows provided the drivers screen, but it was slow and unreliable. WordPerfect decided that writing would be done in text mode, graphics mode being used to view the printed page and insert graphics.
Other improvements in version 5.0 concern the automatic reference, support for 1500 characters including international characters and diacritics, Smart printing (best adapted for the document to the printer in use), merging documents, bulleted lists, track changes etc..
The diversity of product on the market WordPerfect forced to deal with problems such as: “if the user creates a document provided to the laser printer, then takes him home and tries to print on another type of printer, WordPerfect will automatically reformat the document? If not, what happens if the printer driver’s office is not present on the machine at home? If the document is automatically reformatted, is what the user is notified and he may cancel the reformatting? etc.. “
In 1987, IBM and Microsoft released OS / 2 Presentation Manager, Windows competitor. In fact, Microsoft’s strategy was build on Windows and OS / 2 Presentation Manager became IBM products.
Fearful that the success of Windows gives the advantage to Microsoft, who are familiar with its own GUI could better control it, WordPerfect gave preference to OS / 2.
When WordPerfect 5.0 for MS-DOS was finally released in May 1988 are to overcome bugs in the installer, as well as printer drivers and graphics cards. The product got Success: connected to a laser printer, the PC provided a print quality similar to the Macintosh. WordPerfect takes a market share of “desktop publishing”.
The rise of Windows
WordPerfect version 5.1 released in the fall of 1989. It was still under MS-DOS but contains the menus and mouse. It was making improvements in the treatment of tables, merging documents, tabulation, and a set of characters expanded. Installation is even easier.
In 1990, Microsoft offered Windows WordPerfect 3.0 in beta test, but WordPerfect lack of experienced developers in Windows and would rather help the success of OS / 2.
But in May 31, 1990 Microsoft released Windows 3.0: the worst fears of WordPerfect become a reality: many users want Windows, even buggy, and occasionally they also take Word.
WordPerfect then decided to drop OS / 2 for Windows and waives version 5.2 for MS-DOS in order not to delay the Windows version.
Its development was difficult and WordPerfect for Windows comes out in November 1991. The product was slow and has bugs; WordPerfect still sold better than Word. To develop the next version, developers had to wait to have the DDE (Dynamic Data Exchange) from Microsoft. WordPerfect for Windows 6.0 released in 1993. At that time, WordPerfect has a 51% market share in word processing. Word for Windows was well positioned to become the leader.
Following a failed attempt to IPO, WordPerfect was sold to Novell in 1994. Novell resold its rights in 1996 to Corel WordPerfect, which now owns. WordPerfect has millions of users but Microsoft, Word, now dominates the market for word processing on PC.