The First Word Processor Was Known As?
Answer: Expensive Typewriter
Today we think about word processors in terms of sophisticated text editing applications that we may use to actually print something (but might just as easily use to create an internal document for our company that is never printed, a newsletter that will be converted to PDF and emailed, or any other number of things that never result in an actual printed document).
The first word processing program was most certainly print-oriented, however, as it was written specifically to output text to a type writer. It seems archaic in the modern world where a printer may or may not even factor into one’s creation of a document, but in 1961 when Steve Piner and L. Peter Deutsch wrote “Expensive Typewriter” as a program for the DEC PDP-1, a double refrigerator sized mainframe computer, the sole purpose of the program was to take digitally created text and output it to an IBM Selectric electric typewriter (a letter-quality printer). Why nickname the application “Expensive Typewriter”? At the time, the DEC PDP-1 cost approximately $100,000.
Image courtesy of Matthew Hutchinson.