How did people here learn GUIs

Paul Merrell marbux at
Tue Jul 19 19:22:01 UTC 2016

I guess I'm going to show my age here. I began my computing experience
running a DEC PDP8 with a proprietary operating system (punched paper
tape days). That was followed by several computerized phototypesetting
machines made by Compugraphic, including one of the very first area
composition systems, the Compugraphic ACM 9000. (My first career was
as a typographer.)

My first personal computer was a KeyPro IV portable (26 pounds), which
came with a CP/M operating system. I quickly discovered Rex Conn's
ZCPR modifications for the CPU that enabled more versatile batch
programming. I stuck with CP/M until MS DOS was at version 5.0, at
which time I switched to DR DOS with the 4DOS extensions. 4DOS (also
by Rex Conn) gave DOS approximately the capabilities of the UNIX KORN
shell of that period. Later I added WordPerfect Corp.'s Shell 4.0 for
my GUI. Shell was roughly the equivalent of Windows 3.11 but was menu
rather than window and icon based. And unlike Windows it was fully
programmable and had task switching memory management that was vastly
superior to Windows 3.11 (I used to run Windows 3.11 as an app under
Shell 4.0.)

Eventually, I was forced onto Windows 98 as program support for DOS
faded away. But Win98 was full of bugs and I never liked the
window/icon graphical user interface (I have the same issue with OS
X).  Many of my DOS programs (including Shell 4.0) could no longer be
used because they lacked long file name support and would convert long
file names created by Windows and programs to 8.3 format, which would
bring the system to its knees.

Windows XP was next. There were a lot fewer critical bugs than Win98.
I regained a lot of the batch processing versatility by running Rex
Conn's TakeCommand on top of XP. At the time, TakeCommand used a
menu-driven paradigm.

I was forced to take a medical retirement in 2002 (I had been a lawyer
in my second career) because of an injury that vastly curtailed my
brain's working memory. At that point I had been aware of Linux for
several years and after cursing a dual boot setup with Kubuntu for a
few months bought a second PC for it and switched the XP machine to
Win7. By this time, TakeCommand had largely switched to the
windows/icon paradigm but Win 7 was far more stable for the must-have
Windows programs. And I stuck with Kubuntu until KDE 4.0 was imposed.
The productivity hit from all the KDE 4.0 eye candy and gadgetry sent
me running for a new Linux desktop. I wound up using Linux Mint with
the Mate desktop because of the developers' commitment to keeping the
Gnome 2 desktop experience alive and there's access to all of the
Ubuntu distro's packages. Since my retirement, my need for Windows
programs has largely subsided and I mostly use the Mint box plus a
laptop that also runs Mint.

Because of the brain injury, use of an outliner for taking notes
became important. I wasted a few years looking for an outliner that
was both cross-platform and capable of a minimalist HTML export with a
hyperlinked table of contents.  I finally found the one I was looking
for in NoteCase Pro. I fell in love with it to the extent that my
retirement hobby for the last 5 years or so is assisting in its
development as a volunteer, improving its accessibility (still a long
way to go there), writing its Help file, and writing extensions for it
in the Lua scripting language. I suspect that because of its
extensibility it is among the geekiest of outliners out there.

I love Linux because of the powerful command line with the BASH shell.
Windows, icons, and mouse pointers at the OS level have all seemed
like giant leaps backwards to me. But the advertising myth that they
boost productivity seems unstoppable. Linux at least offers me a

Best regards,


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