Re: Article on Screen Reader History (including NVDA)

Chris Tromborg

This parallels my experience with the early DOS and then Windows screen readers and their history and development.



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From: <> On Behalf Of Russell James
Sent: Sunday, July 24, 2022 4:06 PM
Subject: Re: [nvda] Article on Screen Reader History (including NVDA)


Thank you for sharing this article and for allowing the discussion!


I enjoyed reading the article and was not aware of some of the history.


I was reading the article using Firefox and NVDA

I ran into multiple accessibility issues while reading

Probably because I was reading using explore by mouse...  :-)


I started using screen readers for software development work in the 1980's

That was when GW Micro was selling/supporting Vocal-Eyes for DOS.

I went on for years using DOS based interfaces to other systems to leverage Vocal-Eyes for my work.

Vocal-Eyes and the GW Micro developers and technical support team were incredible!


When Windows 3 was coming I learned that GW Micro would be providing Window-Eyes.

While I was concerned about using agraphical user interface I was confident GW Micro would be there to support me and my work.

Window-Eyes and GW Micro never let me down until they were acquired...

I used Window-Eyes from Windows 3.1 up through Windows 10!


I was spoiled by Window-Eyes and explore by mouse!

I adopted this random access method for reading content on the screen.


When I learned that Window-Eyes may not be available in the future I turned to NVDA.

Eventually I pushed myself to make NVDA my primary screen reader.

I would usually have Window-Eyes installed in case I ran into problems with NVDA.

When I shared my desire for explore by mouse with the NVDA developers

They simply told me I was using it wrong...


As I learned from reading this article, I must still be using NVDA the wrong way...  :-)


I wish GW Micro and Window-Eyes were still a supported option!


I have never used any other screen reader for Windows.




On Sun, Jul 24, 2022 at 4:59 PM David Goldfield <david.goldfield@...> wrote:

I have wanted to participate in this discussion since it started as I clearly remember many of the DOS screen readers and how the Windows accessibility landscape unfolded as I was working in the a.t. industry during that time I avoided doing so as I saw it not relevant to the purpose of this list. However, since Brian has made it clear that he’s permitting it I’m going to respond to messages in this thread.


As for browse mode and virtual cursor functions not being available in early screen readers I think this depends on how you define early. Window-Eyes was the first screen reader that I remember using this paradigm in the late ‘90s and JAWS added it in version 3.3. Window-Eyes implemented it using MSAA and it was so slow that waiting for pages to load was unbearable. JAWS added the capability a year or so later but pages were rendered much faster even on computers which we would now consider to be painfully slow. When I wrote a blog post paying tribute to Window-Eyes I was also advised by a reader that Artic Winvision added a similar feature but not being a Winvision user I can’t verify this.



I'm not sure this is the place to go into at length how much screen-readers have advanced since they first came out but they have advanced enormously.  For just one example, there was no Browse Mode or Virtual PC Cursor in early screen-readers. 


The screen reader for OS2 was released in 1992 Sept. Not sure if this was before Window Bridge or not. The wiki article on Outspoken indicated it was released for the Mac in 1989. This is interesting. Has screen readers really developed beyond what they were like in the 90’s?



On Tue, Jul 19, 2022 at 10:41 PM, Dan Thompson wrote:

I would love to read the article on screen readers when it is available.

Uh, it's what started this entire topic.

The Hidden History of Screen Readers: For decades, blind programmers have been creating the tools their community needs

Brian - Windows 10, 64-Bit, Version 21H2, Build 19044  

The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing in the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.

        ~ Dorothy Nevill


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