DarkRoom, WriteRoom


Wow. Maybe I’m behind the curve. And certainly this hit a nostalgic nerve with me today, but… have you seen DarkRoom (for Windows) and WriteRoom (for Macs) old-school word processor simulators? I’m in love. And maybe the newness will wear off soon enough.

I don’t care. I learned to type on an old, electric typewriter. Sure. But at the same time, I was learning to finger type my way through programming in BASIC. That was the fall of 1989. Ouch. Should I type that here? Well, if you know anything about the history of computers, you can probably guess that I learned on an Apple IIe. I loved that computer. I miss it. It was the last one I worked on (actually, the only one I worked on) before I moved on to a GUI Mac in 1993.

Since I’m working on a Vista machine, I had to go with DarkRoom, but the original idea (big surprise) was the old-school simulation for the Mac called WriteRoom. I only downloaded it today, and it isn’t going to become my go-to word processor or anything. But for the past couple of months, I’ve taken to composing my blog posts and other various minor tasks (reading code, or working on long emails, for instance) in WordPad. It opens so fast and is so nice and simple. I would have gone all the way to the stripped-down ASCII type of NotePad, but it’s just so unattractive. And WordPad and NotePad are both Microsoft products which is a huge political drawback for me, too. But DarkRoom is perfect: Fast. Efficient. Free. ASCII. Nostalgic. And techie. Yes!

Oooohhh how I yearn to be sitting in front of that machine again as a kid. Eventually, I’ll probably get a headache from eye strain. But already, I’ve got the impulse to write my friends Lars and Ole and talk about old times playing “Micro League Baseball” in my Mom’s home office. I remember learning to hack the statistics to make Don Mattingly and Dwight Gooden into super human athletes. The 5.5″ floppies straining under the weight of 8-bit programs like Donkey Kong, Lode Runner, and the Oregon Trail.

I hadn’t thought about this until now, but I remember writing my mother’s obituary and eulogy on that computer in 1995. The dot-matrix printer was so loud and jammed all the time. I remember using Print Shop to make the banner I draped over my car (parked in front of our high school) on the first day of the Gulf War (Desert Storm) in 1991. I remember writing my first essay where I wrote an essay that I thought might get me into trouble: something relatively sympathetic about Mein Kampf. Yikes.

So there it is: Amnesia Lane. Green on black. No mouse. Just words, arrows, and shortcut keys. I can’t wait.