A few remarks on the Canon Cat

I’m currently writing a German article for the club journal (“LOAD“) of the VzEkC (basically the national German vintage computer club).

Here are some remarks that did not fit into my article.

Cat Manuals

There is a whole load of manuals for the Cat available electronically. Simply visit
https://archive.org/details/jefraskin for the

  • How-to Guide
  • Reference Guide
  • Online Help (the files from the Cat ROM)
  • Tutorial (the file from the Cat ROM)
  • Quick Reference Card
  • Hardware Schematics
  • Workshop Manual
  • Technical Documentation for the Canon Cat Editor
  • tForth Manual

LEAP in the 21st century

One of the main features of the Cat was Jef Raskin’s LEAP technology. It is basically a fast search-in-the-entire-document-space (in the memory of the Cat) plus moving the cursor to the found location. If you can remember a name, a location, or a phrase, you can find the corresponding location across all documents on the Cat.

This would be a useful function even (or especially) today if you could do it over all things you have ever typed in on all machines that you have ever used. It would require some technology to track all things typed in by a user, but nowadays we have enough compute power to search in that type of data amount quickly.

Finally, although there is a lot of things you can find about the Cat electronically, I received with my machine some things that I did not find in the Internet.

Canon Cat prospectus

It seems to me that this must be the standard marketing material.

IMG_20200223_175906749

IMG_20200223_175940388

IMG_20200223_175958708

IMG_20200223_180028011

IMG_20200223_180043134

IMG_20200223_180058490

Software

Obviously, there was also a little bit oft software for the Cat. I do not know whether these would be sold separately, whether the shop simply copied them to customers, or what their status was. For the CATFILE program a “Note to dealers” basically says that this should be given out to customers so they “will appreciate this usefull addition to their Cats, and we hope they will be encouraged to tell their friends and business associates about this recent upgrade to their Cat systems”. Does not sound as if the Cat sells itself easily, does it?

CATFORM
CATFORM is a Cat program that allows to manage forms on a Cat and to print them out. You can create, store, and fill out forms with this program. I have a printed manual for that. This manual is also available electronically under: https://archive.org/details/DTCJefRaskinDoc048/page/n17/mode/2up

CATFILE
CATFILE allows yout to manage name and address lists on the cat and to use them for mail merge. I have a printed manual for that.

CATFILE Utility Disk
Now this program is not directed towards the users, but towards the dealers. It “is used to create and customize the Catfile Application Software disks for your customers use. I have a photocopied manual for that.

“Secretarial Workstation” demo disk and marketing material
This package was meant for dealers to demonstrate the “secretarial workstation” potential to potential customers. To that end there was a demonstration disk and a short printed manual that explained how to use the disk.

Family Tree v2.1
I do not know what this app really is. Obviously, it is some form of tool to record data for a Family Tree, but I do not know whether this was a commercial program or whether the last owner did program this himself.

BTW, if everythings works out, I will show off my Canon Cat (and the software) at the Classic Computing 2020 exhibition in Thionville, France on the 26th and 27th of September 2020.

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