The Xerox 860 was the Cadillac, no, the Rolls-Royce of word processing systems, used by secretaries (remember those?) in high end corporations and other prestigious institutions. I remember seeing the 860 in action while I was a student at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Communications. It sure went along with the department's leather couches and in-office kitchennettes! Amazingly the 860 was based on CP/M**(see correction below), supported WYSIWYG word processing, printing on a Diablo daisy wheel printer, and had an Ethernet connection. The 860 was a very expensive system at around US $14,000 and for some reason was very popular in Canada. Thank you David Linder of Vancouver, Canada for the generous contribution of this system!
From Dave Curbow's Digibarn pages on the 860:
Most people don't know about the Xerox 860 Information Processing System. Here's a bit of info.
The 860 IPS (and the slightly less capable 850) was the top-end word processor in the industry, displayed with pride at the head offices of all the big corporations. Many corporate documentation departments depended on this system to produce technical documentation. It's documents could automatically contain line numbers, table of contents, footnotes and outlines. It had a spell check function with 88,000 words in its dictionary!
The full-text monitor could display 70 lines of 102 characters.
It stored working files on one of the two 8" (600 kb) floppy disks. Each disk catalog could store up to 560 documents. (In contrast, the Xerox Star came standard with a 10MB or 29MB Shugart hard drive -- but the 860 was an earlier generation.)
The system was sold with a Diablo printer, which was bidirectional and could print 40 characters per second. Up to three Xerox 860 could share one Diablo printer. The printer spooler could store up to 20 documents waiting to be printed. Later versions could make use of the network created for the Xerox Star system. So, documents could be emailed. The photo below comes from a 1982 Xerox marketing brochure.
Look carefully at the right side of the keyboard. That round circle is a CAT -- a touch sensitive pad that worked like a mouse.
From Old-computers.com's page on the Xerox 860:
The full-text monitor could display 70 lines of 102 characters. The text could be black on a white background, or the inverse.
The Xerox 860 was equipped with one of the first WYSIWYG word processors: BravoX (later called "Xerox Document System Editor") which was originally developed for the 1972 Xerox Alto and became the predecessor of virtually all modern word processors
**Seth Miller wrote to us about the 860 on November 14, 2008 (correcting our original CP/M misunderstanding):
Actually the Xerox 860 was not based on the CP/M operating system - the Xerox 820 was Xerox's entry into the office personal computer market and IT was a CP/M system. The Xerox 860 was based on a proprietary operating system; the operating system and application software was loaded from a "System Disk", which was inserted into the disk drive and, once it was loaded, the disk could be removed and put away in a safe place.
The predecessor of the Xerox 860 (which was available in a Full Page black-on-white or white-on-black display, a partial page (25 line) display, or a single line (LED) display) was the Xerox 850, which was a hard-wired system with the operating system and application software burned into a ROM (read only memory).
I was employed by the Xerox Office Systems Division as a Market Support Specialist (customer engineer) for about a dozen years, and I was part of the launch team that brought all of these systems to market, including the Xerox 8010 Star Office System - which was the first commercially practical bit-mapped, icon-and-mouse interfaced, ethernet networked systems, which we marketed as The Office of The Future.