Software Spotlight: Bank Street Writer

First released in 1981, the Bank Street Writer is an easy to learn and easy to use word processor originally written for educational use. It is a historically significant program, as many people got their first exposure to word processing using Bank Street Writer.

It was created by the Bank Street College of Education in New York, primarily as an educational tool. It was later expanded to the to the home market and distributed by Broderbund.

Bank Street Writer is not a very powerful program, but it is laid out in such a way that a new user would feel comfortable using it to write a simple letter.

At its core, it is simple and easy to use. It has on screen prompts for important keyboard functions, and menus of available functionality. It omits advanced features that other word processors of the day may have had, allowing the user to focus on basic word processing tasks without as much learning overhead.

A new user often could sit down at the computer and start using the program without even reading the manual - something that was almost unheard of at the time.

Because it was a rather limited program, it was intended that users would use Bank Street Writer to learn the basics of word processing and then move up to more powerful programs.

The Apple II version was probably the most popular. There were also versions for Atari, Commodore 64, MSX, Macintosh, and IBM PC/PCjr.

It seems that the original IBM PC version, which has now been added to Winworld, was rather uncommon. At the time, the IBM PC, and even the PCJr were not as common in the home as other home computers. The IBM PC was geared for business use, so users were more likely to start off with more powerful and complicated programs.

This IBM PC version uses 160k floppy disks and is compatible with DOS 1.x. Surprisingly, it uses "flippy" disks like the Apple II. This allows the tutorial to fit on the back of the program disk while maintaining compatibility with single sided drive systems.

I don't see any version number in the program, but the files are dated 1/4/1984.

This version is copy protected. The disk contains extra intentionally invalid sector headers on each track. I've tested that it works in the PCE emulator.

The IBM PC version was followed up by Bank Street Writer Plus.


  • Somehow this looks familiar...I wonder if I was using this on the c64 years back...

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