I'm not sure what "user friendly in the late 80s" even means exactly. Although for sure Macwrite was much more approachable than emacs. FWIW the built-in help in emacs was pretty great for its time.
I found it easier to use than vi on the Unix systems at school.
This was after four months of using vi and getting somewhat proficient at it. I can do the mode switching but it's always imposed mental friction.
But emacs worked like the PC editors I was used to in that pressing a key got you the character, so that's what I went with.
(It turns out vi is way better on a mobile keyboard though, fwiw.)
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