Paperless Office: Is it (nearly) here at long last?

Where are we it the much heralded paperless office? It isn’t here yet (not quite), but an efficient sheet-feed scanner and an intelligent digital storage system can turn you into a 95% paperless paragon

Workflow: The humble typewriter through rose-coloured glasses

Notebooks, typewriters, fountain pens: All should by rights be dead, foully killed off by the computer. But they live on.....

Berlin: Leuchtturm notebooks, Lamy and Kaweco pens at KaDeWe

Mike has been obsessing about notebooks and pens again. Here he has been scouring the ample shelves of Berlin’s KaDeWe department store.

Pre-Tech Office (Part I): Office work in the historic 1960s

What was it like to work in an office in the 1960s, almost completely without technology of any sort? This is the first in...

Things 3.0: At last I found my organisational soul mate

I have a new best friend and helpmate. It is called Things. In a few months it has become the focal point of my workflow. I feel decidedly better organised and on top of things. But this was not always so…..

Bullet Journalling: A new productivity concept for notebook fans

Mike examines the new analog productivity craze called Bullet Journalling. And takes up his fountain pen to rediscover lost talents.....

Apple Notes: A notable exception as I return to Evernote, tail between legs

Twice in the past few months I’ve written about Apple Notes. First, I recounted how I had successful transferred all my Evernote files over to Notes and that all had gone well. Well, it went downhill from there. First I noticed some slowness in Notes. Then I realised that every time I opened the application on the iPhone there would be a delay of over a minute before I could start a new note or search for an existing item.

Lightroom CC and the disappearing Nik Collection

Since I upgraded to Lightroom Creative Cloud subscription-based applications my Nik Software plugins have been working flawlessly. Right click on an image, go to "Edit In" and the full list of available plugins was presented. Last weekend, however, I noticed that all, with the exception of Color Efex Pro for some reason, had disappeared from the Edit dialogue box. I immediate suspected foul play involving a big dose of housekeeping done the previous day.

Subscriptions: Ulysses joins the growing band of drip-feeders

Are you becoming irritated by the trend to subscription pricing for software? It is beginning to become a nuisance, with dozens of suppliers drip feeding on our bank accounts. Mike wonders if enough is enough following yesterday's news from Ulysses.....

CPT, the Cassette-Powered Tinosaur

by Paul W. Evans


CPT 8500 The piece on the TRS-80 (April 19) prompted me to recall the now-extinct dinosaur, the CPT word processor. In the early eighties the CPT Corporation (it originally stood for "Cassette Powered Typewriting") held an impressive share of the dedicated word-processor market with its trademark portrait screen and amazingly complicated operation. I ran a public relations company at the time and was asked by CPT to promote their very expensive machines. Even then, personal computers were taking over and the idea of a dedicated word processor was becoming history.

The all-female staff of the CPT London headquarters were fanatics. They believed implicitly in the future of their system and any mention of PCs or "personal" word processors was accompanied by brays of utter scorn. I swear they had a regular happy-clappy collective experience every morning, including singing the CPT company anthem. I entered the fray as an experienced user of WordStar, then the leading PC-based word-processor, so I had a clear benchmark. The massive and massively expensive new CPT on my desk left a lot to be desired as I soon found out.

It did have some attractive features, mainly the paper-white on-end portrait screen that faithfully mimicked a sheet of paper. At the time, most PC displays had blurry white-on-black or green-on-back displays and were usually square and no bigger than 12 inches. The CPT screen was magnificent in comparison, and the on-screen copy was as near WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) as could be in pre-Windows or Apple Lisa days. But there the good experience ended.

The massive 8-in floppy disks stored very little, as I remember, and the method of constructing documents relied on a strange, already archaic one-page-per-file system. It was just about acceptable for a single-page letter, but any multi-page documents required endless fiddling, especially if large amounts of text were inserted or deleted. I did hear that experienced users found it all very easy and Government departments and many large companies relied exclusively on CPT. I suspect, though, that the enthusiasts had come straight from typewriter to CPT and had not experienced the relative freedom of a good PC-based word processor. 

I never once managed to produce a reasonable report on the CPT and soon lost whatever enthusiasm I had gained on first acquaintance. I realised that WordStar, primitive as it was, was years ahead of the CPT in all but on-screen display.

Nevertheless, the ladies of CPT saw no writing on the wall and continued promoting their square-earth philosophy for more than another decade.

My relationship with CPT ended fairly abruptly and I cannot now remember whether I was given the boot or the other way round. I suppose my lack of enthusiasm must have been obvious.  It was a great relief to have the CPT equipment collected and to continue with my tried-and-trusted WordStar.