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 men's underwear.

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 on.

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 to Windows.

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.

5.25 inch floppy

3.50 inch floppy

Boxer/DOS manual

Ringside Newsletter

Joe Louis boxing stamps

1994 SIA Shareware Award

Announcing Boxer 99

Boxer tee shirt

Boxer hat