Re: Typeover Mode

Subject: Re: Typeover Mode
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- STARBASECORP -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 22 May 1995 13:11:51 -0700

re: Roy Johnson's post:
> I am writing a book on 'Writing with Computers' and I wonder
> if anybody has experience of using Typeover [or Insert] mode.
> It seems a potentially useful tool, but I've never come across
> anyone who uses it. Any observations would be welcome.

I haven't actually made use of Typeover mode for years.
A long long time ago (as the computer industry goes),
Typeover and Insert modes were all there was -- then
came the GUI and WYSIWYG word processing and -- all of
a sudden -- typing replaces the entire selection rather
than typing over it to replace one letter at a time.

Back in the days of Wang WP, coal-burning WordStar, and
even Word for DOS, you could insert text or type over
text. Those were the only choices. So, to replace one
line of text with another, you overtyped. Some systems
let you type over returns, tabs, and other control codes,
others turned on insert mode when you got to a return code.

The best handling of typeover mode I've ever seen was in
Crystal Document Processing, a word processing package for
Unix. In that system, when you were in typeover mode and
hit the backspace key, backspace was restorative rather
than destructive -- in other words, it restored the text
to what was there before you typed over it. A very nice
feature to have when you were wondering how to word things.

In other systems, like Word for DOS, backspace remained
destructive but would not function past the text you'd
overtyped. Once you hit the beginning end of new text,
backspace would just beep at you until you moved the

Now-a-days, there are other ways of getting rid of text
besides typing over it or deleting it. You can highlight
it and type and the whole highlighted block disappears.
This drove me certifiably bonkers when I first started
using a Mac, but after a while, I got used to it and I've
never returned to typeover mode. Also, seems like overtype
lost some of its intuitiveness once the cursor was replaced
by an insertion point.

It's been a pleasure sharing some ancient history with you!

Sue Gallagher
StarBase Corp, Irvine CA
sgallagher -at- starbasecorp -dot- com

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