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WHO WORD-PROCESSED FIRST? PROFESSOR’S HISTORY HAS WRITERS STAKING THEIR CLAIMS

UMD English professor's book has a slew of writers claiming they were first to use word-processors.

By Jennifer Schuessler, The New York Times

Matthew Kirschenbaum, the English professor at work on a literary history of word processing, may only be in the beginning stages of his research, but already some early adopters of the technology are chiding him for not doing his homework.
 

In a recent blog post the science fiction writer Jerry Pournelle criticized Mr. Kirschenbaum for failing to award him bragging rights as the first to complete a science fiction novel — and perhaps any kind of novel — on a computer. Not only did he begin writing fiction on a souped-up Z-80 PC named Zeke in the late 1970s, Mr. Pournelle noted, but his old computer is also currently in the collection of the Smithsonian, albeit in storage.
 

Mr. Pournelle was much friendlier in a phone conversation, Mr. Kirschenbaum said, as were the dozen or so other name-brand novelists who have been in touch since the article appeared to share reminiscences of computers past, like the best-selling crime writer Stuart Woods, who jokingly told Mr. Kirschenbaum that he had “invented” word processing in his head in the mid-1970s but had to wait until 1979 to find a system he could actually afford. (His first novel, “Chiefs,” he said, was written on a PC.)

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Date of Publication: 
1/10/12