Technology Flashback: Brother WP-80 Word Processor (1992)

Oh Brother, where art thou?

Writing about the Brother WP-80 Word Processor that I bought in 1992 (for around $400 I think) makes me feel ancient. I am almost embarrassed to reveal how much I loved and still love this machine. I  just can’t deny the influence this thing had in my life. It’s almost like the memory of a favorite pet ( I said almost–don’t shoot me social justice warriors!).

I had just graduated from college and have always used the computer lab (remember that?) to type out my papers using WordStar. Now that I was done with college, I couldn’t afford a computer. I was broke. It was 1992 and almost three times harder to find a job than it is now.

I needed to type out resumes and other types of writing samples for my job search. I happened to stumble into Sears and saw this amazing (for the time) word processing machine that also had a daisy wheel printer. I was in Heaven! I applied for a credit card and was accepted. I went home with the WP-80 and was acting like I just won the lottery. I couldn’t wait to show people that I was in the big leagues now.

It was so cool! I could actually type papers, save them and print them RIGHT FROM HOME! I didn’t need to go to a computer lab. Better yet, I could even save my files on a disk. The WP-80 even had a–get this–SPREADSHEET APP! It wasn’t called an app back then, but you get the idea. It was magic. I had my own little computer and I didn’t have to spend over $2000 dollars for one (which is how much complete computer systems sold for at the time).

The best word processing machine of the early 1990s!

I turned my room into my little home office and typed away. Of course, the resumes never got me really good jobs or anything, but it was the thought that counted. And I used my beloved machine for three years until buying my very first PC, an Acer, in 1995. By then, computers had come down in price and I was able to purchase a full computer system with a printer and color monitor for $1500. But I never gave up on my Brother WP-80.

I moved from Chicago to Los Angeles in 1997 and don’t remember what happened to my beloved Brother WP-80 machine. It represented such pivotal time in my life. Every time I print out a resume, I always see the ghost of my Brother WP-80 in the background. If any family members or friends reads this and knows what happened to my machine, please let me know. To you, the Brother WP-80 is only a machine; to me, it is a lot more.

About Daryl

Daryl Deino has been a technology enthusiast since 1995 and has written for several newspapers and technology sites. Please reach him at [email protected]
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