Whatever happened to Word Processing?

One of the very first software programs I used on a personal computer was WordStar. I used it to write letters, articles, outlines, newsletters, class materials, and more. Before computers, I had a typewriter. With WordStar, I could toss my old typewriter in favor of this new “Word Processor.” After WordStar came WordPerfect. I liked WordPerfect so much that I became a WordPerfect Certified Trainer. WordPerfect was my specialty from 1986 to about 1992 when I started teaching MS Word on Windows. See this 22 minute video of my 1988 “audition” to be an advanced WordPerfect Instructor at my computer training center, Computer Savvy.

WordPerfect 5.1 function key template by Computer Savvy
Anyone remember this? – from 1987

Then came Desktop Publishing

In 1988, in the newsletter for my Computer Savvy training center, I wrote an article about desktop publishing. Where word processing allowed you write and rewrite a document, Desktop Publishing allowed you to design and re-design a document.

1988 Computer Savvy Newsletter article about Desktop Publishing (click to enlarge)

In 2022, I don’t use either Word Processing, or Desktop Publishing

Today, I was summoned for jury duty. That’s fine, but I will be out of the country on the date they want me, so I requested a postponement. The notice said that such a request must be done in writing and sent by mail. hmm, it’s been a long time since I had to print a letter. I opened Microsoft Word for the task and it felt strange. I haven’t used Word in a long time, yet I write most every day. What has changed?

I’m still sending a monthly newsletter, but now I use a website called AWeber. It gives me the tools to design, write, and send the newsletter to thousands of people via email. I’m still writing articles – like this one – but they are done on the web using the WordPress post editor. I’m still writing class materials, but they are mostly done using Google Slides combined with WordPress posts. For quick written notes, I use Google Keep.

The last time I used MS Word was for writing my book, Learn Google Photos. I still like using Word for this long document project because of its features specifically for long documents. Features like collapsible outlines, automatic table of contents, indexing and the navigation panel.

What about letters? … what’s a letter? All of my communications is now done with email or text messages. Sometimes I let my posts on Facebook serve to communicate with all my friends at once. Do I need a word processing app for any of this? Nope. Using my phone, I don’t even need to type. I can “swipe” or even dictate and let the phone transcribe what I say. For lessons on how to use these techniques on both Android and Apple devices, see “What Does This Button Do?” Episode 222 How to Type Faster and Easier on your Smartphone.

What about you? Do you still use a Word Processing program? Leave a comment below.