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LocoScript Version History

This is an attempt to reconstruct, from what information is available to me, the version history of the LocoScript word processor (the 8-bit version, at least; the PCDOS port is out of my scope for this).

I don't have all the versions that I've listed below, and for those that I do have I haven't necessarily studied them closely to determine what changed in them. Point releases, in particular, may find themselves grouped together with a vague description.

LocoScript 1

VersionApproximate dateBoot fileNotes
1.01985J10LOCO.EMS

The original LocoScript release, for the PCW8256 / 8512. Output only to the built-in dot-matrix printer. Maximum memory used is 512k; memory beyond this is ignored.

1.041985

It seems the early versions of LocoScript were fairly prone to bugs, leading to a profusion of early bugfix releases. I don't have any specific information about which release fixed which bugs.

1.111985J11LOCO.EMS

I've only seen this as a Spanish version, and haven't examined it in detail. It may be that the version bump to 1.10 was for localisation support.

Somewhere between 1.0 and 1.11, the name of the overlay file containing the word processor changed from JOYCEDIT.JOY to SCRIPT.JOY.

1.201985J20LOCO.EMS

A widely-distributed version that shipped with the majority of 8000-series PCWs. It also appears in the screenshots of the PCW8256 manual. New features include the ability to export LocoScript documents as ASCII, and to print a range of pages rather than an entire document. The dot-matrix font (MATRIX.STD) has chisel-like quotes instead of curly ones.

1.211985J21LOCO.EMS

I've only seen German and Spanish versions of this, and haven't checked in detail to see what changed since 1.20.

1.311986J31LOCO.EMS

Introduces LocoMail and LocoSpell, the mail merge and spell check add-ons. Overlay files now have standard LocoScript headers (in previous versions they were headerless). Unfortunately their headers are of type JOY, indistinguishable from normal documents, and LocoScript will happily attempt to open them as documents if you give it the chance.

1.401986J40LOCO.EMS

Some internal rearrangement; the code to drive the dot-matrix printer moves out of the EMS file and into a separate PRINTER.JOY file, where it is combined with the printer font (formerly MATRIX.STD). Possibly the intention was to make the use of other printers possible by replacing PRINTER.JOY, though I have no evidence that this happened. Or perhaps it's a memory reorganisation connected with hard drive support (see below).

The overlays now have a separate file type, OVL, so will no longer be mistaken for documents. LocoScript will still recognise and load the LocoSpell and LocoMail overlays from 1.3x versions.

Attempts to recognise memory beyond 512k. However this will lead to M: drive corruption or spurious errors on PCWs with more than 1Mb of memory.

Internal structures now support disk drives other than A, B and M. It can be deduced that this is where hard drive support begins; stock v1.40 does not itself load third-party drivers, but presumably there was a separate v1.40H that did.

1.501991J50LOCO.EMT

Over four years after LocoScript 2 was released, LocoScript 1 was revived to be bundled with the PcW9256 (I don't know why Amstrad chose to bundle LocoScript 1 rather than 2, but perhaps it worked out cheaper for them). Signs on as LocoScript '1' v1.50 rather than the LocoScript v1.xx of previous versions.

Includes code to check that it is indeed running on a 9256, and refuses to boot on earlier 8000-series PCWs. As in earlier versions, memory above 512k is ignored so the drive M: bug is not triggered.

The code that loads LocoSpell and LocoMail overlays appears to have been removed, so adding the overlays from previous 1.x versions will not work.

1.501992J150LOCO.EMT

Bundled with the PcW10. Identical to the PcW9256 version, except for the copyright date and the fact that it signs on as a PcW10.

LocoScript 2

VersionApproximate dateBoot fileNotes
2.00May 1987J20LOCO.EMS

LocoScript 2 was a significant redesign and rewrite of LocoScript. Among the changes / improvements from LocoScript 1 are:

  • Menu structure redesigned.
  • Larger range of characters (up to 512 rather than 256)
  • Faster. In particular, does not slowly scroll to the end of a document when saving, a particular complaint regarding LocoScript 1.
  • Ability to move to a page by number.
  • Ability to format and copy discs within LocoScript.
  • Ability to use wildcards in find / exchange.
  • Supports output to printers other than the PCW's dot-matrix printer. Drivers are supplied for Epson FX-compatible dot-matrix printers and D630-compatible daisywheels. However, only those characters provided natively by a printer may be printed; there is no provision to use graphics printing to draw LocoScript's full range of character shapes. The exception is the PCW's own dot-matrix printer, which can only uses graphics printing and so can render the full gamut of characters.
2.01-2.06May-September 1987J20xLOCO.EMS

As with LocoScript 1, the initial release was followed by a flurry of bugfix releases. Version 2.01 reinstated the ability to output a screen dump by pressing [EXTRA]+[PTR], and version 2.02 corrected a problem with LocoScript codes within copy / paste blocks. I don't know the details of changes made in later 2.0x versions.

2.10,2.11August-September 1987J210LOCO.EMS, J211LOCO.EMS

Bundled with the PCW9512 (at this time, versions 2.0x were for the PCW8000 series and 2.1x for the PCW9512). The most common version seems to be 2.11.

The major change would be support for the PCW9512 hardware, in particular its daisywheel printer.

2.12September 1987J212LOCO.EMS

The first version available for both 8000- and 9000-series PCWs.

Keyboard layouts (previously part of the system file) are now separate files, allowing foreign-language keyboards to be used on UK PCWs or vice versa.

Characters for the PCW8000 matrix printer can be defined using LocoChar, a utility written in BASIC. Fonts for other printers can be compiled from text files with CHARKIT. One or other of these changes caused a bump to the format of the *.#xx font files, which are now v2.1 rather than v1.1.

Support added for a greater range of printers.

A version supporting hard drives was announced; this appears to have been a separate product line rather than loadable driver support in the main release.

2.16July 1988J216LOCO.EMS

Apparently not all intermediate versions between 2.12 and 2.16 were released; some had breaking bugs found after the discs had already been mastered.

At some point between 2.12 and 2.16, a utility called LocoKey was created, allowing custom keyboard layouts to be designed.

A new Sans Serif font was designed for the PCW dot matrix printer. (However a LocoScript 2 document cannot use multiple fonts; each document would therefore use the Standard or Sans Serif font, but not both).

Support for more printers was steadily being added, including 24-pin models.

2.20January 1989J220LOCO.EMS

A change in the way fonts are held for the PCW8000 dot-matrix printer. In versions prior to 2.20, MATRIX.PRI held the 'main' font, while other fonts were stored in *.#xx files. Now all fonts are stored in *.#xx files, leaving no distinction between 'main' and 'other' fonts. This causes another change in the format of font files, and hence an updated version of LocoChar to edit them.

24-pin printers can now print the full range of characters supported by LocoScript, by using the ability to download character bitmaps. A matching 24-pin LocoChar allows custom character shapes to be designed.

The version numbering system changes so that even-numbered versions (2.20, 2.22 etc) are for dot-matrix PCWs, while the corresponding odd-numbered versions (2.21, 2.23 etc) are for daisywheel PCWs.

LocoFile database introduced.

Support for multiple start-of-day discs (place an ET.AL file on the first disc to prompt for a second).

LocoScript is now distributed as an installer rather than users having to return their master discs for an upgrade.

2.26 / 2.27J226LOCO.EMS

Adds support for printers with sheet feeders.

2.28 / 2.29July 1989J228LOCO.EMS

A reasonably significant release:

  • A greater range of Greek characters, including accented breathing marks.
  • Accessibility features: Double-size characters on screen, and 'sticky' shift keys.
  • Screen character set now held in SCRCHAR.JOY rather than built into the .EMS file. This change may be related to the release of specialised Hebrew and Euro-Arabic versions of LocoScript.
  • Hard drive support (by means of .FID files) is now present in the standard release.

LocoScript 2.29 was bundled with the PCW9512 sheet feeder accessory so is fairly common.

Euro-Arabic LocoScriptOctober 1989

An official Locomotive release, supporting bidirectional writing in Arabic, Urdu and Farsi. Was supplied with a hardware dongle for copy protection purposes.

2.He1990?JHEBLOCO.EMS

A custom build of LocoScript distributed by Advantage, that replaces Cyrillic output with Hebrew. Supplied as an installer disc containing patched LocoScript system files, renamed as HEBREW.001, HEBREW.002 etc. and an installer which creates a start-of-day disc from these files and a LocoScript .EMS file provided by the user.

2.30 / 2.31May 1991J230LOCO.EMS, J31LOCO.EMT

Adds the ability to work with documents exported by LocoScript PC.

As version 2.31b, was distributed with the PCW9512+. This version will refuse to run on first-generation PCWs.

2.32c / 2.33cJ232LOCO.EMS

Mentioned in the LocoScript 3 installation notes as the last version of LocoScript 2 before 2.50.

LocoScript 2.5

VersionApproximate dateBoot fileNotes
2.50-2.57March 1993J250LOCO.EMS-J257LOCO.EMS

LocoScript 2.5 is a cut-down version of LocoScript 3, omitting the scalable fonts. This allowed Locomotive to sell modules based on the LocoScript 3 code base to users still on LocoScript 2, without requiring them to purchase LocoScript 3 itself; and was less hungry for memory on 256k PCWs.

LocoScript 2.5 document files are actually saved in LocoScript 3 format.

The version numbers track those of the corresponding version of LocoScript 3, less 0.5.

LocoScript 3

VersionApproximate dateBoot fileNotes
3.00-3.07March 1993J300LOCO.EMS-J307LOCO.EMS

The main feature of LocoScript 3 is a redesign of the printing system; instead of relying on a printer's text output, scalable 'LX' fonts are rendered by the PCW and drawn graphically by the printer. In addition, multiple typefaces can be used within a single document.

Includes support for .FIB files, allowing LocoScript to function correctly on PCWs with non-standard disc drive configurations (such as 3.5" drives on an 8000-series PCW).

The original release was 3.00; as with LocoScript 1 and 2, point releases to fix bugs followed quickly.

LocoScript 4

VersionApproximate dateBoot fileNotes
4.00-4.031996-1997J400LOCO.EMS-J403LOCO.EMS

Toward the end of 1996, the last nationwide PCW magazine (PCW Plus) ceased publication. In the last issue, LocoScript 4 was announced, giving rise to a suspicion that the news of the magazine's closure had forced the release to be brought forward.

New features announced were colour printing, printing in multiple columns, and the inclusion of graphics in MicroDesign Area format — the last promised for a future 'second release'.

In contrast to the original LocoScript 1, which could not use more than 512k, LocoScript 4 will not run in less than 512k and prefers 768k or 1Mb.

4.04-4.09August 1997J404LOCO.EMS-J409LOCO.EMS

Support for MicroDesign images arrived in LocoScript 4.04/4.05. Subsequent versions (4.06-4.09) were presumably bugfixes.

4.10/4.11Winter 1997J410LOCO.EMS/J411LOCO.EMS

Described in PCW Today as a 'third major version of LocoScript 4', this version makes it possible to 'draw boxes, change the size and position of graphics once they have been positioned, and produce a mirror image of a graphic'. Pictures can also be inverted and outlined.


John Elliott 2020-01-18