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The REWRITE word processor


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In 1987, Bob Ertl's master's thesis was titled Narrowing the Gap Between the Word Processing Needs of Teachers and the Capabilities of Word Processors for Atari 8-bit Computers. As part of that project, he created an Atari word processor aimed at the needs of math teachers. The word processor is called REWRITE and was only used by a handful of teachers. It was never widely available.


Today, for the first time, and with massive effort from Bob, I am able to share REWRITE. Bob has released two versions of the word processor in ATR format, and the Mac/65 source code (!) for both versions (in multiple file formats), and the manual. I scanned his thesis.


The permanent location of the files is at Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/REWRITE_word_processor


For easy access, here's the ZIP file: The REWRITE Word Processor.zip


I will be interviewing Bob for the ANTIC podcast in March.


Here are some screenshots:







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I want to highlight the text file "Changes Made From 2.5 to 3.1" which Robert wrote just this week. Here it is:


Changes made and changes I thought about making . . .

When I created Rewrite 2.5, I did not yet have a double density drive
and so I stated elsewhere that it did not support double density drives.
In reality, it does, if you put the AUTORUN.SYS file that contains
Rewrite on a disk that contains a version of DOS that does
support double density drives.
While I wrote a User Manual for Rewrite Version 2.5 in 1987,
I did not update the manual to reflect the changes
made since then up through version 3.1 in 1995.
After recently comparing the 2.5 source code with the 3.1 source code
it appears that the following significant changes were made
in addition to a lot of little glitches being cleaned up.
Three defaults were changed
- False spaces are now visible rather than invisible
- Automatic page formatting is now on rather than off
- The vertical guide bar at the cursor is now on rather than off.
Also the keyboard command SHIFT+CTRL+# was added to toggle between
ANTIC mode 3 (with descenders) and ANTIC mode 2 (no descenders).
This makes it possible for Rewrite to use both types of screen fonts.
Several Screen Fonts are found on side two of the program disk.
The Help file on the program disk called "ANTIC" was added with 3.1.
This feature was added, because I used Rewrite to create data files
for a Team Competition Program I wrote (called the Buzzer Game)
which made use of various different screen fonts.
Changes I had in mind to make that were never implemented were:
Buffer the keyboard so that no characters are lost
when there is a lot of text in memory and
typing rapidly while in insert mode.
My work-around for this was to stay in overwrite mode and use
START to insert space to type in . . . and then use
START [E] to erase extra spaces when done.
It would have also been handy and fairly easy to set a default
disk drive number to use, similar to Pick Directory in MYDOS,
but I never got around to doing that because back when I used
Rewrite, I almost always used "D1:".
Finally, when I implemented SHIFT+CTRL+# to toggle the ANTIC modes
it would have been nice if that only applied to the text in the document
and not to the entire screen display and the full-screen menus.
At some point, I gave Rewrite the ability to save a copy of itself
onto a disk which then resulted in the current settings becoming the defaults.
When that is done, Rewrite's temporary text buffers and variables are also
saved which uses up a total of 127 sectors on a disk.
A freshly assembled copy of Rewrite does not include that temporary area,
and occupies only 115 sectors for version 3.1 (114 for version 2.5).
It would have been nice to have that save not include the temporary space.
Robert Ertl - February 10, 2018
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There are two very different files that I designed for Rewrite that are both called MATH.FNT. This confused me at first as I tried to remember the details about Rewrite. After pondering this for a while, here is what I have deduced about these files.


On page 32 of my 1987 Thesis, Figure 2 shows several math symbols and formulas that were produced by Rewrite. See the file called FIGURE.2 in the disk image called REWRITE 2.5 Thesis-2.ATR. Near the beginning of that file, there is an "Include Verbatim" command line (IVMATH.FNT) which sends the contents of the file called MATH.FNT to an Epson FX-80 printer. So the file called MATH.FNT in this disk image is a printer font. Unfortunately, version 2.x of Rewrite did not yet have the ability to display any of those special math symbols appropriately on the screen. So, what you see on the screen in the FIGURE.2 document is what I had to get used to looking at as I created mathematical documents with Rewrite 2.x.


A few years after that, I started using MS Word on a Mac to create printed mathematical documents and so I abandoned the above mentioned printer font called MATH.FNT. However, I did not abandon Rewrite. I had also developed a classroom team competition program for the Atari (which came to be known as the Buzzer Game) which displayed questions on the screen that needed math symbols. So I created an Atari math screen font, but unfortunately, I also named it MATH.FNT. That screen font can be found on the disk image called REWRITE 3.1 PROGRAM 1995 2.ATR along with several other screen fonts. At the same time, I gave Rewrite version 3.x the ability to load and use different screen fonts (with [OPTION] [L] [F] and [sHIFT]+[CTRL]+[#] to toggle the ANTIC modes on the screen). This allowed me to use Rewrite to easily create mathematical question banks for the Buzzer Game. To create screen fonts, I used a program from Compute! Magazine called SUPERFNT.BAS. My embellished version of that program is also in the disk image called REWRITE 3.1 PROGRAM 1995 2.ATR. If you load MATH.FNT (or STATS.FNT or CALC.FNT) from that disk image with my embellished version of SUPERFNT.BAS, you can see which characters are paired with the various math symbols. Unfortunately, those character pairings do not match the pairings that I used in my abandoned Epson FX-80 printer font described above.


While it would certainly be possible to use SUPERFNT.BAS to create a screen font that matched the Epson FX-80 printer font (or vise verse), I never bothered to do that, since my FX-80 printer had by then been replaced with a Laser printer for my Mac. Having a math screen and printer font that matched, would allow Rewrite to both display and print these special characters appropriately. At this point, this would be of interest to me only if I could still use the printer font to print. Do any of you know of an Epson FX-80 Emulator or and modern printer that can pretend to be an Epson FX-80? (Note: The Atari Peripheral Emulator (APE) from ATARIMAX) emulates an Epson MX-80 printer.)


(One final note: I now have the latest version of APE for Windows (3.0.13) from ATARIMAX and I am no longer experiencing any data transfer errors as I use it to transfer files from floppy disks to ATR disk images or when I use it to print documents from my Atari.)


Robert (Bob) Ertl


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Here is some more clarification regarding the various math fonts that I created for use with Rewrite.

(Hopefully, I am remembering all of this correctly this many years later.)

The original Math Epson FX-80 printer font that I created and used to write my Thesis in 1987 was called MATH.FNT
The original MATH.FNT is on the REWRITE 2.5 Thesis-1.ATR disk image.

At the time I gave Rewrite (version 3.x) the ability to load and use screen fonts, the then current version of the printer font MATH.FNT
was renamed as MATHFX80.FNT.
MATHFX80.FNT is on the REWRITE 3.1 PROGRAM 1995 2.ATR disk image.

According to Rewrite's Compare function, the printer fonts MATH.FNT and MATHFX80.FNT are slightly different, but I do not remember what changes were made and I no longer have an FX-80 printer to try them out on.

The latest documentation regarding this Epson FX-80 printer font, MATHFX80.FNT, is in MATHFONT.
MATHFONT is a view file on the REWRITE 3.1 PROGRAM 1995 1.ATR disk image.

From that point on, the filename MATH.FNT was used for a screen font that could display various math characters on the screen.
MATH.FNT is on the REWRITE 3.1 PROGRAM 1995 2.ATR disk image.

I ran out of characters to convert to math characters that I needed for Calculus and Statistics.

So CALC.FNT and STATS.FNT are slight variants of the MATH.FNT that have a few extra characters for each of those subject areas.
CALC.FNT is on the REWRITE 3.1 PROGRAM 1995 2.ATR disk image.
STATS.FNT is on the REWRITE 3.1 PROGRAM 1995 2.ATR disk image.


You can use the BASIC program called SUPERFNT.BAS to load these screen fonts to see which characters were changed to math characters.

SUPERFNT.BAS is on the REWRITE 3.1 PROGRAM 1995 2.ATR disk image.


When I recently archived and released Rewrite, I no longer had a Rewrite 2.5 program disk, but I still had the source code. So I re-assembled Rewrite 2.5 and simply put the resultant AUTORUN.SYS file on a Rewrite 3.1 (1995) program disk. The resultant disk images are:
REWRITE 2.5 PROGRAM 1995 1.ATR disk image.
REWRITE 2.5 PROGRAM 1995 2.ATR disk image.
So, that is why the year on each of these images is listed as 1995 instead of 1988.

And hence, there are many things in these images that were not available in 1988 when version 2.5 was first assembled.


Robert (Bob) Ertl

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