George RR Martin writes his fantasy novels on an ancient DOS computer. The Game of Thrones author talked about it on Conan the other night. O’Brien set up Martin by talking about how many authors fear that a virus could infect the computers they work on and destroy their projects. Martin doesn’t have that concern.
“I have a secret weapon,” explained the author. “I actually have two computers. I have the computer that I browse the Internet with, and that I get my email on, and that I do my taxes on, and that computer. And then I have my writing computer, which is a DOS machine, not connected to the Internet.”
“A DOS machine?” Conan asked.
“Remember DOS? I use WordStar 4.0 as my word processor,” said Martin.
“Did you make this computer out of wood?” O’Brien asked in jest. Martin then explained why he sticks with the classic.
“Well, I actually like it. I mean, it does everything I want a word processing program to do, and it doesn’t do anything else. I don’t want any help, you know. I hate some of these modern systems, where you type a lowercase letter, and it becomes a capital. I don’t want a capital. If I wanted a capital, I would’ve typed a capital. I know how to work the Shift key.”
Sticking to old tech for security reasons is actually one of the safest ways to avoid malware infection, if not the safest of them all. Think about it: if you’re not connected to the Internet, the only way a virus could be introduced to your computer is if someone had physical access to it. This approach is also used by the US military, which employs floppy disks and computers from the 1960s in order to operate and secure many of its nuclear missile silos.
However, using a word processor built for an operating system that dates back to the 1980s just because you like it? That’s another matter altogether.
By the way, WordStar 4.0 was released in 1987. Back then, Ronald Reagan was in office, the Cold War was still being waged, the Berlin Wall was still standing, and Justin Bieber wasn’t even alive yet. President Obama was in his mid-20s, and the iPhone wouldn’t be announced for about another 20 years.
And you thought your aunt’s Windows 98 PC was old.
You can check out the exchange below, courtesy of YouTube.