In the brutal future of Frank Herbert’s Dune, computers are outlawed and high level computations are done by specially trained and bred humans called mentats. In Herbert’s world, there’s something elegant about old solutions to new problems. Good then that Oscar winning Dune screenwriter Eric Roth banged out the screenplay using the MS-DOS program Movie Master.
Roth writes everything using the 30-year-old software. “I work on an old computer program that’s not in existence anymore,” Roth said in an interview in 2014. “It’s half superstition and half fear of change.” Roth wrote the screenplay for Dune in 2018 and explained he was still using Movie Master on a Barstool Sports podcast in 2020. That means Dune was written in an MS-DOS program.
There’s really no reason to stop using software that you like, assuming you can make it secure and ensure your work is properly backed up. It’s trivial to set up a DOS environment, and it’s trivial to ensure not just the files you’re working on, but the entire DOS environment itself is backed up. This applies to many old and outdated platforms – there’s countless ways to virtualise, or to go on eBay and buy some original hardware.
Love this. Reminds me of a high school English teacher I had who kept using an old Apple II with a little green monitor, despite it being 20 years old at the time. It wouldn’t surprise me at all of he still uses it to this day, another 20 years later. And of course George R. R. Martin famously still uses WordStar for all of his writing.
I have to say, I totally get it. There is something about writing environments with fixed-width fonts and 80 characters per line, along with minimalistic UI, well-thought-out keyboard shortcuts and lack of distracting internet access that is just superbly conducive to focusing on writing and nothing else. Compared to modern software, the simplicity means that the functions that are present are rock-solid and bugs are few and far-between. And unlike Microsoft Word, every word and sentence that is located on page 57 stays on page 57 unless more text is explicitly inserted before that point. Finally, sometimes the tools you start out with are just the most comfortable. Long live old tools for new problems!