A word processor is an electronic device or computer software application that performs the task of composing, editing, formatting, and printing of documents.
The word processor was a stand-alone office machine in the 1960s, combining the keyboard text-entry and printing functions of an electric typewriter with a recording unit, either tape or floppy disk (as used by the Wang machine ) with a simple dedicated computer processor for the editing of text. Although features and designs varied among manufacturers and models, and new features were added as technology advanced, word processors typically featured a monochrome display and the ability to save documents on memory cards or diskettes. Later models introduced innovations such as spell-checking programs, and improved formatting options.
As the more versatile combination of personal computers and printers became commonplace, and computer software applications for word processing became popular, most business machine companies stopped manufacturing dedicated word processor machines. As of 2009 there were only two U.S. companies, Classic and AlphaSmart, which still made them. Many older machines, however, remain in use. Since 2009, Sentinel has offered a machine described as a " word processor", but it is more accurately a highly specialised microcomputer used for accounting and publishing.
Word processing was one of the earliest applications for the personal computer in office productivity, and was the most widely used application on personal computers until the World Wide Web rose to prominence in the mid- 1990s.
Although the early word processors evolved to use tag-based markup for document formatting, most modern word processors take advantage of a graphical user interface providing some form of what-you-see-is-what-you-get ("WYSIWYG") editing.