Look back at 1987’s Canon Cat word processor

1987's Canon Cat word processor was like an early laptop (1)

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There’s a new cat in the office jungle: The Canon Cat

A smart new breed

The Canon Cat is the world’s first Work Processor. It is a simple but powerful office machine.

The Canon Cat is not a typewriter, electronic or otherwise. Yet minutes after you plug it in, you can be typing on The Cat like a veteran.

The Canon Cat is not a word processor. Yet it will let you write and edit faster than any word processor in the world. The Canon Cat is not a personal computer. Yet it will let you do calculations right in the text, store information and communicate with other office machines.

What is The Cat? As we said, it’s the world’s very first Work Processor. It can help you write and edit, communicate and calculate. It’ll even dial your phone.

A great leap forward.

1987's Canon Cat word processor was like an early laptop (3)

The Canon Cat is the brainchild of the originator of the Macintosh computer. This time, he wanted to make an office appliance so simple that anyone could plug it in and use it — like a toaster.

He analyzed how people (particularly office people) think and work. Then he designed The Cat to work the way people think. Which makes work easier.

For example, if you look over the keyboard on the next page, you’ll see that it is just like a traditional typewriter keyboard. No fancy computer keys with confusing names like Access and Control. It’s familiar and easy to use. See these rosy Leap keys?

They are The Cat’s most fascinating feature. Just press one down, type in a few letters you remember from a document — and you’re where you want to be — instantly. No menus. No files. No mouse. Just the fastest way to move a cursor. A most productive pet.

1987's Canon Cat word processor was like an early laptop (2)

If you’re ready to move up from typewriters to the world of microchips and screens, the affordable Canon Cat is for you. It’s from Canon, home of a long tradition of office innovations, including personal copiers and desktop laser beam printers.

The Cat has been designed to work especially well with Canon Printers including the CatI80 Daisy Wheel Printer and the Canon Laser Beam Printer. The Cat is to easy to learn that you or your employees won’t have to disappear for days into often frustrating training sessions.

Anyone can become an expert on The Cat in just a few hours. The Canon Cat will make mountains of work disappear faster and easier than ever before. That’s why we call it the first Work Processor.

Canon – Your office will never be the same again.

MSRP $1,495

See some of the first laptop computers: Clunky, slow & expensive tech everyone wanted

“All right, this all sounds good, but how will The Canon Cat change my day?”

See the vintage Canon Cat word processor

It’s a day like any other day around here. There’s the annual update of the customer list to be alphabetized and sorted. That’s no easy task.

Then there are all the letters I have to do during the course of a day, not to mention the memos that have to go out ASAP. Sometimes to one person, sometimes to the whole company.

And, of course, we don’t want to forget the phone calls I have to make. And since I haven’t had time to update my phone directory in ages, it’s not exactly alphabetized.

Let’s see, there are all those reports from the regional offices, my boss will want to see those right away. Especially since they’ll include new names for the customer list.

All in all, a secretary’s typical day. Too much to do and too little time to do it.

Canon, if you can help me with a day like today, I’ll believe what you say about The Cat.

Canon Cat word processor from 1987 (2)

The Advanced WORK Processor

Yes, Kate. Here’s how The Canon Cat can make your day.

9:00AM — Kate’s at work right on time. No sooner has she gotten her coat off then she’s switched on her new Cat. Checking the day’s schedule she quickly realizes that it’s now or never for the updated customer list. She inserts the customer list and simply begins typing revisions, without any fancy commands. 

9:48AM — It had to happen. Just as Kate was making real headway on the list, her boss popped his head out of his office and said, “Sorry to interrupt you, Kate, but I’ve got an urgent letter to get off to Johnson & Bowen. ”

There was a time this would’ve driven Kate nuts, but since she’s gotten The Cat, interruptions have become less of a problem. She simply taps the Document key and begins to type the letter. When she’s done she presses Print and, using her Canon Cat180 Printer, produces a perfect letter. Back to the list.

10:17AM — “Oh Kate,” says the boss, “Williams will be in town tonight. Could you make a reservation for two at that place he likes — the French one?”

In goes the Notes disk, Kate types “Williams,” leaps directly to his name with a Leap key and then checks the notes to see which restaurant he likes. She highlights its phone number and has The Cat autodial. Reservation confirmed.

10:30 AM — While Kate enjoys her first coffee break trading weekend tales with Louise from accounting, her Cat sleeps contentedly. After five minutes of not being used, it turns itself off. No loss of list though — The Cat knows to automatically record what’s on the screen onto its disk.

Canon Cat word processor from 1987 (4)

11:07 AM– Just as she’s entering the new address of Amalgamated Objects of Akron, Kate remembers that her monthly time sheet has to be updated. She puts in her Time disk, presses Calc and integrates her new hours into the text. Onward and upward with the list.

12:14 PM — Time to check with little Ben’s babysitter. Using The Canon Cat to autodial, Kate hears the good news: Ben has gone all morning without pulling the cat’s tail. The bad news: they haven’t seen the cat all morning. Vowing to check in later, Kate returns to her Cat and her list.

1:00 PM — While Kate savors her spinach salad, The Cat gets a call. It’s the Southern Regional office sending in their share of the updated customer list. Both Kate and The Cat happily digest. The Cat stores the new information and waits for Kate.

Take a look at how crazy expensive personal computers were back in the '80s, and how their features compare today

Canon Cat word processor from 1987 (5)

1:59 PM — Kate checks the new material from the regional office, and alphabetizes it using her Sort key. Then, using her Disk key, she stores it onto a new disk for safekeeping. She doesn’t have to format the new disk, but can use it right out of the box.

2:47 PM — Another interruption. This time it’s John, from the sales department, wanting a look at last month’s sales figures. Kate simply Leaps to sales information and together they run through a couple of “What-If” scenarios for the current quarter, using the Calc key.

3:00 PM — Coffee Break II, the sequel.

Kate uses the time to write a quick note to a friend. She pops in her Address list to get the proper address and types the letter right there, transferring it a minute later to her Correspondence disk. She prints it out, and sends it off. Into the list homestretch.

3:30 PM: “Send this memo to the three managers from the A-list,” says the boss. Kate types up the memo on her Cat — and then has the machine autodial and electronically deliver the memo to their secretaries’ Cats.

4:00 PM — The phone rings and it’s the Cleveland office, last as always, with its customer list updates. Kate lets them feed the info directly to The Cat, and within minutes is able to put the finishing touches on their material and integrate it into the list.

Old office cubicles & retro open plan office layouts from the '70s

Canon Cat word processor from 1987 (6)

4:12 PM — Just as Kate is about to finally alphabetize her masterpiece, the boss appears, looking harried.

“Kate, I hate to bug you, but could you check my schedule for Thursday — am I meeting with Schultz or what?” “I’ll just ask The Cat,” she says smiling. And sure enough, there’s Schultz on the schedule. The boss smiles. Time for A-Z.

5:00 PM — Kate reaches for her coat, just as the last pages emerge from the Laser Beam Printer. She quickly dials up the West Coast office and has The Cat transfer the completed list. She’s off to help Ben hunt for his cat at home, happy to know that she’s done more work in one day with The Cat than she used to do in a day and a half without it.

5:14 PM — Checking carefully to see that everyone’s left, the boss sneaks out to Kate’s desk and flips on The Canon Cat. “Now I’ll find out what all this excitement is about,” he says to himself, and eagerly begins to type.Canon Cat word processor from 1987 (1)

Vintage IBM electric typewriters from the '60s, including the Selectric with swappable round print heads

Features: It’s not hard to see why the Canon Cat is so easy

Features It's not hard to see why the Canon Cat is so easy

Always lets you know how much room you have left in your Cat.

Points out the text you do something with.

Lets you do just that — with a variety of Canon Printers.

Answers your questions about The Canon Cat.

Lets The Cat automatically do any repetitive task you want it to do.

Lets you calculate.

Lets you get where you want to be — instantly.

Allows you to store approximately 80 pages of text on a 3.5″ disk.

Lets you automatically dial phone numbers.

Lets you communicate with other Cats or other computers.

Lets you arrange in alphabetical or numerical order numbers, words, sentences and paragraphs.

Lets you record what you’ve typed, or play it back.

Uses 90,000 words from The American Heritage Dictionary and 450 from you to catch spelling and typing errors.

Undoes the last thing you’ve done, so you can change your mind.

Apple introduces the Macintosh personal computer (1984)

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