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Word Processors Through Time: Before MS Word & Google Docs

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By: Jack Milgram | writer and blogger at

People transferred messages to others and preserved their thoughts long before computers, word processors, and typewriters were invented. Yet, if we’d want to discuss everything an individual used as a writing device, we’d have to travel back to prehistoric times. Even ignoring cave paintings created with rocks or charcoal, our conversation would have to start with Ancient Egypt since the first known pen was developed in 3000 BC.

From the 6th century, people employed quill pens. Though modified and improved, they were primary writing tools for different professions and tasks, only on par with silverpoint and later pencils. It was only in the 19th century when ballpoint pens released people from ink and feathers.

In the infographic below, our team has considered what happened after pens and pencils.

  • When was the first writing software invented?
  • What did people use before MS Word and other widespread word processors became a thing?

Let’s find out.


  1. The Vintage Software Collection: Internet Archive
  2. Typewriter — Writing Technology: Britannica
  3. How to Write a History of Writing Software: The Atlantic
  4. Word Processors: Matthew Reed’s TRS-80

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