> SPELLBINDER

Spellbinder was written by Lexisoft, originally a one-man company, a year and a half before Wordstar was created. It was the best word-processing software on the market for years and years. It was modeled after the NBI dedicated word processor, but both the NBI software and Spellbinder changed over the years. It was more popular in Europe (especially France), where it was marketed more aggressively than in the U.S. Three U.S. computers came with Spellbinder included in the basic package: the Eagle IIE series (I, II, III, IV, and V), the Hewlett-Packard 125 and 120, and the Xerox 16/8 (aka Xerox DEM II).

The founder of Lexisoft (who was also the guy who wrote Spellbinder) died in a car accident, and Lexisoft shut down. Ltek, a language-processing firm who'd used Spellbinder heavily, became the owners of Spellbinder by contract. By that time there was a PC version of Spellbinder as well as the original CP/M version and the version for Oasis (another 8-bit operating system). There was also Spellbinder Desktop Publisher, one of the first desktop publishing packages, better (in my opinion) than the "big two", (Xerox) PageMaker and (Ventura) Publisher.

David McGlone wrote to Ltek about the continued availability of the CP/M version of Spellbinder Word Processor, in his capacity as the ECUG (Eagle Computer Users Group) newsletter editor. The couple who were Ltek wrote back that they were PC people only, and didn't know anything about CP/M. At that point David founded Lambda Software Publishing (Lexisoft, Ltek, Lambda -- all start with L) and negotiated a contract with Ltek under which he could sell it and pay them a royalty for each copy sold. Later he added other products, including some he bought from Joe Wright's Alpha Systems Corporation and some he wrote himself, but Spellbinder is the reason he went into business. He kept it available from then until he shut down Lambda in 1997.

The final CP/M version of Spellbinder was 5.3. Lambda sold the software, the user's manual, the MPL (macro programming language) manual, and a manual of tips and macros and articles, for $60, and provided full support. There were also Spellbinder articles in Lambda's magazine, _The Z-Letter_, and a regular column, the last couple of years, by a lady named Tina Huovinen.

Spellbinder was much more powerful than most Eagle users ever realized. It could generate footnotes, do two-column print (both the ECUG newsletter and _The Z-Letter_ used that), and had true proportional printing. It also included a full macro programming language for automating operations. Instead of WordStar's non-mnemonic array of commands for doing things to paragraphs, words, etc., Spellbinder's commands were mnemonic, and there was a "wheel" that you could set for character, word (the default), sentence, paragraph, or mark (^). Operations such as forward, back, or delete affected the unit of text indicated by the "wheel" setting, greatly reducing the
number of commands needed.

The cut-and-paste functions of Spellbinder were very advanced. Before 5.3, you could cut or copy a character, word, etc. (depending on the wheel setting), then go anywhere in your text and paste it. With 5.3, you could cut or copy the text, and either replace what was already in the text buffer or add it to what was already there; and when you pasted it, it was still in the buffer to paste again as many times as you wanted.

The search-and-replace was so advanced and versatile that I still find myself missing it in Word and Word Perfect. You could search for carriage returns and other special characters, and you could search for wild cards such as "any number", "any letter", "any character other than a number or letter", etc. For example, if you had a list with 1., 2., etc. at the beginning of every line, and you wanted to put a space in front of each 1-character number to make them line up with two-character numbers, you could search for all instances of (carriage return)(one number)(period)(two spaces), and replace each one with (carriage return)(space)(one number)(period)(two spaces), all with one command; and the command could be part of a stored and named macro!

Spellbinder had an edit mode and a command mode. In edit mode, you just typed along; in command mode, your input was commands such as save a file, open a file, etc. You could run commands using alt and control commands when in edit mode, or by typing letters when in command mode.

> Eagle

On the Eagle computers, the number keys and numeric keypad keys had Spellbinder commands on the front of the keys. These commands were executed when you hit those keys in command mode. There were also some dedicated Spellbinder keys, including a button to put you in command mode if you were in edit mode, or edit mode if you were in command mode.

The Spellbinder section of the Eagle software manual was very basic, and most Eagle users never realized that they could change the command keys, write macros, use other commands not documented in the Eagle manual, etc. If the Eagle owner upgraded from the Eagle-specific version of Spellbinder (5.12) to 5.3, from Lexisoft he would get the user's manual, and if he wanted the MPL manual that was extra. If he bought 5.3 from Lambda he got the whole package and lots of support.

> Hewlett-Packard

The HP 125 and 120 came with Spellbinder, modified to fit the overall look of HP software and called Word/125. HP software had standards, including eight function-key labels at the bottom of the console, four on the left and four on the right, matching the function keys on the keyboard. Word/125 was modified to display the current Spellbinder function-key settings in these windows. Otherwise it was little modified, and you could upgrade to standard 5.3 and run it with no trouble. The HP 125 came with an HP-written "Word/125" manual that covered the basics of using the software, but weren't as good as the Lexisoft manuals, let alone the Lambda ones. Later on
the HP suite was expanded to include WordStar/125 as an option, and then so many people wanted so many packages that they gave up the idea of rewriting each package to conform to HP software standards.

> Xerox

The Xerox 16/8 came with Spellbinder, and had a couple of Xerox-written manuals for it. They were pretty good, but still not as good as the Lexisoft or Lambda manuals.


Thanks a lot to Leo D.Orionis for all this info !