Zorlof the Magnificent

written by Matthew Reed

Anitek advertisement from 80 Micro

Anitek advertisement from the May 1983 issue of 80 Micro

Zorlof the Magnificent was a powerful word processor for the TRS‑80 Model I and III. It was written by Peter Ray and sold by Anitek Software Products of Melbourne, Florida. Released in 1982 for a price of $69.95, Zorlof was often described as a “second-generation word processor,” one generation beyond Electric Pencil and Scripsit.

Text editing

Zorlof was a full-screen word processor that supported lowercase on the Model I. It provided 61 editing functions, which included common tasks such as deleting lines, global search and replace, and block moves. Word-wrapping and justification were automatically handled by Zorlof. As it stated in the manual:

The operator of ZORLOF is free to type continuously, never worrying about where to break the lines, or how the spacing between the words should be to achieve proper justification. ZORLOF does this all for you automatically, using its advanced WORD-WRAP and LINE JUSTIFICATION capabilities which match and even surpass those found on many of the higher priced word processing systems.

Zorlof continually updated an on-screen count of words and lines, giving an easy way to keep track of document lengths.

In addition to text files, Zorlof could also directly edit BASIC and EDTASM files. It could even renumber BASIC program files.

Formatting

Zorlof had many powerful formatting features, such as the ability to have different footers on odd and even pages, that were not commonly found in consumer word processors. Unlike Scripsit, Zorlof had many character formatting features. On printers that supported it, it allowed underline, bold, italic, superscript, subscript, and expanded text. Zorlof supported over 50 printers and could use proportional justification on printers that allowed it, such as the Line Printer IV. Using special techniques, Zorlof could even print justified text on some dot-matrix printers that didn’t ordinarily support proportional justification.

Another useful feature was print preview, which displayed a document with text formatting and justification on screen. This provided a good way to save both time and paper.

Legacy

There never was a Model 4 version of Zorlof. In December 1982, Anitek released Zorlof II, an upgrade that provided many new features. One of the more unusual features was called “Zap processing.” Zap processing allowed Zorlof to edit binary files. Anitek released some patches to Zorlof that were intended to be applied using zap processing mode.

Despite its power, Zorlof had two major problems with consumer perception:

  • The unusual name of “Zorlof the Magnificent” caused many to think it was a computer game rather than a word processor.
  • Zorlof’s low price of $69.95 led to it being overlooked by many looking for an advanced word processor.

In 1984, Anitek released a new word processor named LeScript. LeScript, which cost $129.95, was a major redesign of Zorlof. Unlike Zorlof, there were versions of LeScript for the Model 4 and other computers in addition to the Model I and III. Anitek continued to sell Zorlof as a lower cost alternative to LeScript.

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