What Is Word Processor?


Word Processor is a term used to describe a hardware or software which is used for input, edit, format, output, convert some text. Even first-word processors are hardware-based or provide very basic features for word processing. Modern word processors like MS Word, Libre Office, OpenOffice, etc. provide advanced features.

Word Processor History

Word processor history goes back to the 1970s. Even hardware-based word processor roots go older than that we will look at the history of the software-based word processor.

  • The first-word processor software or application is created in 1976 with the name of “Electric Pencil”.
  • In 1978 another word processor named WordStar boomed the word processor market and became very popular. WordStar was created for the CP/M operating system. But later with the popularity of MS-DOS the WordStar is rewritten for MS-DOS.
  • In the MS-DOS era word processors, WordPerfect and Microsoft became very popular even there are some less popular word processors like XyWrite.
  • The late 1980s with the innovation of laser printers typography became important with different fonts.
  • Apple Macintosh computers provided the MacWrite word processor alternative from the year 1983.
  • In the IBM PC era, Microsoft Word became very popular which started in 1984.
  • With the popularity of the Windows operating system, Microsoft Word became a defacto word processor.

Word Processor Features and Operations

Word Processors provide different features in order to create documents. Not all of them provide advanced features but different processors provide a different level of features.

Insert text is the most basic and popular feature where text, words, and characters are typed into the document which is provided by the word processor.

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Delete text is another popular operation where miss-typed or unwanted text and characters are deleted.

Copy is another popular operation where some text is copied from the given document.

Paste is similar operation to “insert text” but the text is copied from different documents, browsers, etc. into the current document.

Page size and properties can be configured accordingly for better and specific view and page type.

Search operation will search and find a given word or characters in the current word processor document.

Replace is related to the “search” operation where matched search can be changed or replaced with the given word or characters.

Print is used to print the given document into a different format like PDF or sent to into printer to get a hard copy.

File management is used to create, delete, move, rename word processor documents.

Font management is used to set and change font type which is related to the character representations.

Spell checking is another popular feature where the text content is checked again spelling or grammatical errors.

Footnotes are used to put some information about specific text or paragraph.

References is used for academic purposes.

Headers and footers are used to show some generic information like document name, page number,

Macro is used to run simple scripts to generate, calculate some data, or create actions according to the keystrokes and automatically run some functions.

Index Table is used to show list of headers and document parts with page information.

Graphics are used to show some data or information in a graphical way. The graphic can be a bar, pie, line type.

Table is used to show tabular data in a structured way which is easy to read and look.

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Word Processor GUI

Even a word processor provides a lot of features it provides very basic GUI in order to make the user experience easier for most of the people from different knowledge level.

Word Processor GUI

Word Processor Use Cases

Even word processor is a very similar text editor it provides a lot more features and detailed configurations. Below we will list some use cases for the word processor.

  • Creating reports for different businesses
  • Creating homework for school and university
  • Creating documentation about a product, feature or service
  • Creating presentations with a lot of text, table, and graphics.

Popular Word Processor Software

Even Microsoft Word is the most popular and defacto word processor there are a lot of proprietaries and free/opensource word processors. Below we will list some of them.

Free and Open-Source Word Processors

  • AbiWord
  • Apache OpenOffice Writer
  • Calligra Words
  • EtherPad – real-time word processor
  • GNU TeXmacs
  • Groff
  • JWPce – Japanese word processor, designed primarily for the English speaker who is reading or writing in Japanese
  • KWord
  • LibreOffice Writer
  • LyX – TeX document processor
  • OnlyOffice Desktop Editors
  • Ted
  • Trelby – screenplay word processor

Proprietary Word Processor

  • Apple Pages, part of its iWork suite – Mac, iOS
  • Applix Word – Linux
  • Atlantis Word Processor – Windows
  • Documents To Go – Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, Symbian
  • Final Draft – screenplay/teleplay word processor
  • FrameMaker
  • Gobe Productive Word Processor
  • Hangul (also known as HWP)
  • IA Writer – Mac, iOS
  • IBM SCRIPT – IBM VM/370
  • IBM SCRIPT/VS – IBM z/VM or z/OS systems
  • Ichitaro – Japanese word processor produced by JustSystems
  • InCopy
  • IntelliTalk
  • iStudio Publisher – Mac
  • Kingsoft Writer – Windows and Linux
  • Mariner Write – Mac
  • Mathematica – technical and scientific word processing
  • Mellel – Mac
  • Microsoft Word – Windows and Mac
  • Microsoft Works Word Processor
  • Microsoft Write – Windows and Mac (a stripped-down version of Word)
  • Nisus Writer – Mac
  • Nota Bene – Windows
  • Polaris Office – Android and Windows Mobile
  • PolyEdit
  • QuickOffice – Android, iOS, Symbian
  • Scrivener
  • TechWriter – RISC OS
  • TextMaker
  • ThinkFree Office Write
  • Ulysses – Mac, iPadOS, iOS
  • WordPad – previously known as “Write” in older versions than Windows 95; has been included in all versions of Windows since Windows 1.01.
  • WordPerfect
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