Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A brand new word processor from 1995!

I received an e-mail out of the blue last week from a stranger. His name was Andreas Magerl from Germany, and he asked the a question: "Are you the Nick Harvey who wrote TextEngine for the AMIGA?"

After a quick flashback to a pre-internet 1990s, I recovered enough to reply "Yes"! As it turns out, Andreas runs an online magazine at servicing what appears to be a thriving Amiga community. TextEngine was a hobby of mine during my younger years. As an owner of an Amiga A500, and later an A1200, I decided to programme my own simple word processor just for my own use. By today's standards it's no better than Windows Notepad, with a couple of additional features. But for me it did the job. For fun I submitted version 1.0 to Amiga Format Magazine who very kindly included it on their cover disc (issue 25, August 1991 to be precise). From there I released it into the Public Domain as a fully functional shareware product (via 17 Bit Software in the UK - now Team 17 -  if I remember rightly), and was very lucky to receive some donations from generous users all over the world.

Even though back then the Internet as we currently know it didn't exist, there was a growing FTP site called Aminet, the de facto repository for Amiga Public Domain software. TextEngine has resided there in good company for many years, and looking back it feels like that was in some way one of the places today's open source community has grown from. I hope it was.

Anyway, getting back to Andreas - he suggested I re-release TextEngine as a freeware product. Once he convinced me there would be a demand (I was rather sceptical) I fired up Devpac (within the incredible WinUAE emulator running on my PC) and was quickly making changes to my 15 year old 68000 source code. The result?

And Andreas was right about the demand - it's been online for 2 days and has so far had over 100 downloads. So many thanks to everyone who has downloaded the 144kb file and still find it useful. Also an especial thanks to everyone who sent in money during the Shareware days - your names all still appear in the Amiga Guide file which accompanies the programme. And a final thanks to Andreas for giving me a brief opportunity to return to the good old days. TextEngine was a real pain to programme - I wouldn't do it again, and have no plans to return to it, but seeing it on-line, on magazine cover discs, and in magazine reviews (even the bad ones!) was very satisfying indeed.

And for those young kids amongst you who never enjoyed owning an old 16 / 32 bit computer such as the Amiga, here are some screenshots...

TextEngine's icon on a sparse desktop

TextEngine, editing its own source code

A very basic spell checker, but better than nothing

Thanks for reading,


  1. Wow! I just googled Textengine because it is open on my Amiga desktop and I wanted to see if there was any kind of information on other versions online.

    I've just started using my A500 again, to write! My PC broke and I only needed word processing for some Uni work. It suddenly occurred to me that I had a perfectly functioning one in the attic. So I set it up and it's now once again restored to pride of place on my desk. I have a cheap laptop I picked up for to supplement when I need more modern conveniences such as the internet.

    But anyway, "Textengine V3.0 (c) Nicholas Harvey 1991" is my processor of choice and I just wanted to say thank you!

    I will check out the new update! :D

  2. Thanks Dave for the feedback - I'm equally surprised and humbled that people are still able to use TextEngine for actual work! And coincidentally, I also used it for a lot of my Uni work...

  3. Someone on mentioned Textengine - I thought wait a sec, TextEngine... TEXTENGINE! Some Google-fu and I found you.

    Nick, you indirectly helped me through all my highschool assignments, right through till 1998 when my A1200 passed away - You are the man!

  4. Thanks PodeCoet for the kind words - they're much appreciated. And what an exciting computer the A1200 was - they don't build them like that any more!

  5. I used Text Engine quite a bit back in the day. It was a superb WP. I think you are underselling it a little - it is waaay better than Windows Notepad!

    It left such a good impression on me all those years ago that I recently recommended it to an OS4.1 user with a brand new Amiga. I will pass on the link to this page. Thanks Nick for a great tool.

  6. Hey, thanks Sam - I'm starting to blush now!

  7. Just tried TextEngine out, and I like it. It's light and non-intrusive, but efficient. It came included in the BetterWB package, an upgrade for the bare Amiga Workbench installation, a bit like Linux distros in a way. Thanks for updating this after so many years!


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