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ARCHITECTURE OF AN EXPERIMENTAL OFFICE SYSTEM: The Soft Display Word Processor Disclosure Number: IPCOM000131356D
Original Publication Date: 1978-Dec-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Nov-10
Document File: 14 page(s) / 55K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Jack E. Shemer: AUTHOR [+4]


The SDWP system is designed for use by secretarial and clerical personnel to fill in forms, create and edit the texts of documents, and store and retrieve documents electronically. The basic I/O devices include a typewriter-style (capacitanceswitch) keyboard, a CRT display, a character printer, floppy disks, and a cursor-positioning device (see Figure 1). A printer driven by raster-scan techniques and a communication facility can be added as options. The CRT display generates composite alphanumeric and graphic images that emulate 8 1/2 x 11-inch printed pages in both horizontal and vertical page orientations. The electronic files can be recalled for editing, reformatting, printout, permanent filing, and a variety of other uses including transmission over communication facilities.3 Files can be specified by Boolean combinations of document name, author(s), keywords, creation time and date. A set of textediting commands are provided to enable the user to ";cut and paste"; -- that is, insert, delete, and move strings of text at electronic speeds via the display. The ";soft copy"; CRT instantly displays the status of a document being edited, eliminating the sluggish response of an electromechanical printer. Also, the CRT is used as a menu from which to select stored documents or invoke particular actions, and it serves as a prompting aid for new users, minimizing training time. The keyboard, cursor-positioning device, and CRT display are the primary interfaces for operatormachine dialogue. Function keys are used to invoke the most commonly used commands and functions. These include basic editing operations (insert, delete, replace), scrolling commands, a IlEl.P function for operator assistance, and a Command Input key, which is used in conjunction with mnemonic commands. Information which requires user response is displayed in menu form, and the user merely selects the appropriate option from the list of those displayed. The display is split into a maximum of three viewing areas -- the menu area, the main display area, and the status and alarm area, which is used to display system status messages and error conditions.

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This record contains textual material that is copyright ©; 1978 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact the IEEE Computer Society (714-821-8380) for copies of the complete work that was the source of this textual material and for all use beyond that as a record from the SPI Database.


Jack E. Shemer

Transaction Technology Inc.

J. Richard Keddy

Xerox Corporation

  (Image Omitted: This experimental microprocessor-based office system incorporates architectural features -- such as memory paging and distributed processing -- normally associated with large computer systems.)

One of the major challenges confronting computer engineers is to expand their technology into new application areas. This challenge is coming from two directions: from potential users, who are growing more insistent that computer systems be adapted to their needs and styles as naturally as possible, and -- perhaps ironically -- from manufacturers of computer components, who need an increasing demand for their products in order to sustain business growth with a rapidly advancing technology.

The contemporary office is one of the theaters in which this challenge is being faced, in a variety of ways. Word processing systems are being used to create and edit documents of all kinds. Micrographic and computer-based systems are being used for records management. Integrated systems are beginning to appear that employ communicating word processors and printing devices driven by digital input. As new technologies mature, attention is being given to integrating image processing with voice communication, and one can foresee the time when word processing, image processing, electronic files, and voice communication are combined into remarkably versatile and powerful information storage and communication facilities." 2

But this raises another challenge -- that of devising system organizations and architectures that take maximum advantage of hardware and software technology to make sophisticated applications possible at reasonable costs. A distributed- function architecture is one of the most promising ways of organizing systems of heterogeneous but complementary components, and we decided to use such an architecture to build an experimental word processor.

Two types of word processors are currently being offered: typewriter-based word processors and display word processors. Typewriter-based systems are often referred to as "blind editors" because operators cannot see the effects of the changes they make until a printout is made of the altered text. Instead, they must keep mental images of desired finished outputs in order to edit the stored material. Display word processors, on the other hand, are called "visual editors" because a visual display of the stored material...