18 March 2024

Portex - Diary and Address Book software.

A long time ago, in the days before Microsoft Windows came along to our computers, we used MS-DOS with everything done from the C:\ command line

What are you talking about???!!! Everything was text based, or using ASCII characters to draw boxes on the screen with the cursor being moved around the screen using the tab or arrow keys, no mouse control!

It sounds primitive I know, but it worked. We got our first home personal computer in about 1989, a Viglen with an Intel 80286 processor and 640kb of RAM and a 30MB of hard drive storage.... tiny by today's standards. My Apple Series 5 Watch has 32 GB of storage on my wrist!! 

We used programs such as Wordstar, later on WordPerfect 5.1 for Word Processing. These were general purpose word processing packages. For more specialist applications there were lots of small companies selling software for IBM compatible PC's back then. You ordered the software package and a box of disks and manuals would arrive. Dial Up Internet didn't really become a thing until the 1990's.

Portex was one of those specialist programs that appeared in the 1980's, it offered Address Book, Diary, Word Processor functions. 

Where this program differed from general purpose word processors though was its ability to print on Filofax Personal Size pages. It had all the settings for that in the options. 

I bought some continuous fan fold paper that worked with our dot matrix printer with a tractor feed, I was able to print the pages then the strips tore off the sides and the pages had perforations to separate them. 

Using the Portex Software and this paper together with the Filofax DIY Index (dividers) I was asked to create multiple copies of a training manual for a local company, that would be handed out to participants in a Filofax organiser. 

It took quite a while to input all the text from the original files, but I was able to complete the task over a few days. Formatting the text to fit the Filofax size was tricky, but once achieved printing several copies wasn't too difficult. 

I can't find any definitive information about Portex, the software was sold by a company by the name of Eurosoft International, who don't appear to be in business yet. However, I still have a copy of the software.  

I did manage to get it to run in a DOS emulator program on one of my computers. Naturally the printer drivers are very much out of date, but that is typical of old applications these days. It was more a curiosity than an actual need to use it again. 

Has anyone else used this software in the past? 


  1. Indeed! Not the same software but in 1987 I splashed out on an Amstrad PPC512, billed as “the world’s first portable computer”. I used Time Manager (TMI) tractor feed pre-punched organiser paper (I still have some!) and TMI produced primitive software on 3.5” floppy disks to enable me to replicate my diary and address pages. Seemed very advanced at the time!

  2. I used to use this! I don't recall much about it though. I think I invested in paper, but not the continuous fan fold paper. My version came on 3.5" floppy discs.

  3. I used Portex and Time Manager for Windows, which was the TMI offering, each for a while, but manual entry onto paper won me back in the end.

    The fact that neither lasted does make me wonder about the longevity of some of the current offerings - I think of the now demised Wunderlist, the up and coming Superlist and the currently popular Todoist. Even Outlook Tasks looks under threat from Microsoft To Do.

    Somehow, however, I can't see paper going away as an option.

    Go on, call me old fashioned!