The Birth of a Text Editor
Although Boxer Software was formed in 1991, the roots of
Boxer as a program stretch back about five years earlier.
Boxer's chief developer, David Hamel, was intrigued by the
challenges inherent in text editor development. Unlike some
applications, text editors pose a wide range of programming
problems in a single package: memory management, data
organization, searching, sorting, data conversion, undo,
user interface, etc. It's rare to find a single application
that embodies so many different programming disciplines.
Hamel made several false starts — gaining valuable
insight — before beginning the program that would become
Boxer in November of 1986. The dominant editor of that day
was BRIEF, a product published by UnderWare. Early versions
of Boxer were influenced by the look-and-feel of BRIEF. The
Boxer name itself began as a play on words: another style of
Boxer was used heavily by its developer, and by other
engineers who supplied a steady stream of encouragement, bug
reports and ideas. Boxer gradually became more and more
powerful, but for a long time Hamel had no commercial
aspirations for it.
By early 1991 Boxer had become too good to keep secret.
Everyone who saw the program encouraged Hamel to bring it to
market. But launching a commercial product is an expensive
proposition, and text editors are not typically thought of
as mainstream applications. It wasn't at all clear whether
or not Boxer could succeed in the market. Hamel decided to
release the program as Shareware to minimize the initial
investment, and to make sure that as many people as possible
would get a chance to use the program.
Go Forth and Multiply
On April 6th, 1991, with the back seat filled with
diskette mailers and the front seat filled with hope, Hamel
drove anxiously to the Post Office to launch Boxer.
Diskettes containing the evaluation version of Boxer were
mailed to hundreds of Disk Vendors, User Groups, and BBS
Sysops. On the chance that it might increase recognition, a
bright red 5-1/4" diskette with a boxer dog image was used.
For years and years people would comment about having
received one of those bright red diskettes.
Sales were slow to start. On May 4th the first order
arrived. One month later a second order came in. Gradually
they became more frequent. In September of 1991 Boxer was
favorably reviewed by Richard O'Reilly of the Los Angeles
Times. Orders became more steady. Sales were not yet
stable, but on the strength of the Times review Hamel
decided to leave his full-time job and devote his full
energy to Boxer. With a wife and two small children to
support, this was a risky decision. Finally, by June of
1992, Boxer was providing enough income for Hamel to live
Over the years that followed Boxer was continually
enhanced in response to suggestions from customers. Version
4.0 added more than 75 new features. Boxer/TKO was
introduced with version 5.0, bringing with it the ability to
edit multi-megabyte files. Boxer/OS2 was announced
coincident with the release of version 6.0. German versions
of all products became available with version 7.0. Version
7.5, with its long filename and Windows clipboard support,
helped Boxer users cope in a world that was rapidly moving
Moving to Windows
During the ascendency of Windows 3.x, many Boxer users
urged the company not to support the industry's movement
toward the graphical user interface. The argument was made
that a text editor would not benefit from a graphical
interface, and that performance would suffer. For a time
these arguments were largely true, and as a result Boxer
Software never produced a 16-bit Windows editor. But PCs
were becoming faster and faster, and Windows 95 brought
considerable advances over Windows 3.1. The time for a
Windows version of Boxer had come.
Development of Boxer for Windows began in August of 1997,
with the expectation that the project would take a year.
Once underway, it became apparent that at least 18 months
would be needed to complete the program. In the end, a full
two years had passed, but it was worth the wait. Boxer 99
was announced at a well-attended 'Boxer Bash' during the
Shareware Industry Conference in Tampa, Florida.
Boxer for Windows was instantly popular with Boxer
Software's existing customers, and soon drew the attention
of new users as well. As with the early versions of Boxer,
users came to appreciate the product's versatility and
attention to detail. With the continued support of
customers new and old, Boxer Software will keep developing
high-quality software for many years to come.