Re: Seattle STC Conference -- 1984!

Subject: Re: Seattle STC Conference -- 1984!
From: Sabahat Iqbal Ashraf <ashrafs -at- RPI -dot- EDU>
Date: Sun, 26 May 1996 03:55:24 -0400

On May 23, 11:20am, Walt Tucker wrote:
> Subject: Seattle STC Conference -- 1984!
> After attending the most recent Seattle STC conference, the proceedings
> for the last STC conference to be held in Seattle (1984) happened to catch
> eye. Those proceedings have been sitting on my shelf for years!

> For those of us old farts who were fortunate to be technical writing at
> that time, we tend to forget how archaic things really were until we browse
> though topics that were considered "state of the art" at the time.
> (Note that, for the 1984 conference, most papers were submitted and based
> on work done in later 1982 and 1983). For you young pups, let this be a
> lesson to you how hard life was back then.

> Harken back then, to a time when:

> -- Many technical writers, especially at large companies with
> the dollars to spend on computer equipment had, in the last few years
> made the transition to "writing electronically".
> But, writers at smaller companies who couldn't affort the $3000
> for the newly-released IBM PC or additional dollars for a more
> sophisticated system, were still doing work on typewriters.
> Typesetting and pasteup were a traditional part of the production
> process.

> For older writers, the the world and the profession was changing
> rapidly and the big question was "Could they learn how to use
> the new computer equipment and learn enough computer skills to
> stay employable in the rapidly changing market?"

> -- Virtually all computer equipment we had was based on an 80 character
> screen. ASCII terminals connecting to a mainframe were common, but
> the "personal computer", especially as a result of the introduction
> of the IBM PC in 1982, was starting to make big in-roads. Most
> people had yet to see a windowed display; the
> the Apple MacIntosh had just been released (after most papers
> were written) and it was the big buzz, but most writers had
> yet to see one. And, who had yet heard of a mouse (except,
> perhaps for a few Autocad users that had used them to digitize
> schematics)?

> -- Comparisons of state-of-the art word processing systems, such
> as WordStar, Perfect Writer, ScriptSit were big STC topics. Should
> I use a word processing system? If so, which one should I convince
> my company to buy? Could they afford a sophisticated and
> expensive word processing system such as a WANG (the title of
> one paper was "Planning and Implementing the Right Word Processing
> System")? Virtually no one had yet seen a WYSIWYG editor, and "Desk
> Publishing" was still a catch phrase about two years in the future.

> Some papers based comparisons of word processing programs on how
> many keystrokes it took to do specific functions, and one paper
> offered a method to write your own word processing program (in BASIC,
> no less).

> Another paper promoted the advantages of a computer networks for
> writers. Yet another discussed how to move the editing function
> online (items such as annotations and so on). Radical stuff!

> -- Some forward-thinkers were talking about moving documentation online,
> and there were even papers about online help! Most of these systems

> the time). Future STC officers Elizibeth Babcock and William
> Grice also presented.

Was William Grice or Roger Grice? I ask because I just took a course with


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