Text Editors – Part II

I mentioned the Amiga, because of Commodore inept executives, everything Commodore went belly up.

’nuff said about that.

The editor I used to use on it was called Cygnus Ed. It’s probably considered primitive by today’s standards, but it was a lot better than the one that came stock on the Amiga OS.


Although you could do quite a bit with it if you took the time to learn it.

I was a Vi user, and by extension Vim. At first I used the ‘Z’ editor that came with the Manx C Compiler, but it was vanilla Vi. You get spoiled using Vim, but by the time it was usable on the Amiga, I’d already moved on to  OS/2 based computers.

I miss my Amiga though. I’ve wanted to dabble in WinUAE off and on over the last few years, but the effort doesn’t seem worth it.

One of the things that surprised me when the Amiga was going the way of the dodo is that Amiga users drifted to Windows 95 as opposed to OS/2. They were very vocal about how much better Amiga’s were than Microsoft’s OS. And then a good number of them turned into hypocrits.

I went with OS/2. I miss that OS too, but probably not as much as the Amiga.

Next up, digging into DOS editors.











Text Editors – Rabbit Hole #3

All that talk about non-volatile ram, got me thinking about ramdisks again. I know friends of mine will groan if they read this. I was a big fan of ramdisks.

I can hear the whispers already (SSD’s dude!). I’ll let you guys do the benchmarking, but ramdisks are 10x faster.

Now that I had the ramdisk bug… again, I set out to look for one. There are some free ones, some paid. I wanted all the features possible so I  ended up going with Radeon’s RAMdisk.

I set the windows temp variables to my R: drive.  It’s set to save changes to it automatically in the background, and it loads on boot.

Almost the same as non-volatile ram.

The machine I’m typing this on as 32gb, so i put 10gb to the ram disk. a few things are running, Chrome, Blizzard client, Steam client, WordPress desktop, some background utils: Malwarebytes, Nvidia settings, Gaming mouse util. i have about 10gb free ram left.

I’ll test this baseline config and see where it goes. puttng ISO’s there temporarily sounds like a good use


I ended up putting the google chrome cache and code-cache into the ramdisk. Now that windows supports symlinks it was much easier to do.

Bottom line is it makes chrome lightning fast. and the ramdisk driver takes care of the issue of surviving a reboot.

I was happy enough with the results that I decided to do the same thing on the Linux side.

The process is Linux specific of course (create the ramdisk, add it to fstab, move the cache/code-cache/etc. to the ramdisk, create the symlinks, add a systemd service to call a bash file to do the save and restore on the ramdisk.

It’s even faster under Linux because that OS is just more efficient out of the box.

All this because I want to go on about the wonders of my  current favourite coding environment.

Stay tuned. 🙂










Text Editors – Rabbit Hole #2

There was a period when DOS based PC’s were still too  expensive for the average computer nerd.

By the time I’d actually bought a Commodore 64, I’d already had (and sold) an Apple ][+ and owned both a console model TI-99 (this computer was way ahead of it’s time). And an Timex-Sinclar ZX-81.

I no longer have the console model of the TI-99, but I still have the silver “toaster” model. With a few cartridges (thanks Jeff!)

I can’t quite give that one up yet.

I also still have the zx-81, 958 bytes of screaming ram. Although I did get a 16k memory pack from someone I worked with a long time ago.

The other computer I invested quite a bit of hardware and software in was an Amiga A500. with a BASEboard so 4.5meg of ram total.

Amiga is over 30 years old and it could do at least two things that still can’t be done with todays Windows PC’s

Oh? You ask. What would those be?

At least two different resolutions on the same monitor at the same time. So yes, a 640×200 and 640×400, a few others but that’s probably what was used the most. You could slide a screen of one resolution over another. Very cool at the time. The Amiga became the basic tool for a lot of video work.

The other was non-volatile ram. That’s right. You could reboot your Amiga, and contents of some of it’s ram would still be there.

Big deal! Sure, means if you had a ramdisk, where you saved something you were working on, it would still be there after a reboot. If you put a wee bit of thought into it, means you could put boostrap code there, and boot from your ramdisk. That was a great demo at Amiga user group meetings.

So speaknig of rabbit holes, this led me down another one…





Text Editors – Rabbit Hole #1

I posted the link to a working copy of AEDIT. That got me to thinking I should try it out again. I thought someone might have a RMX emulator. No. didn’t exactly want to put down $10k for a blog.

But when I found Sepp’s Homepage there was a dos copy there.  As long as you don’t use the extra 186 instructions, you can run something compiled on that platform on an 8088/86.

Unless of course you try to run on a Windows 10 pc. The have this cmd line, but it’s only really for cmd line programs written for Win10. I wanted to run an actual DOS program.

Also at some point Windows 10 stopped allowing 32-bit programs to run. Seems to me I read this some place but completely forgot about it.

That led me to DOSBox.

And that led me to a reminder that a dos box cmd line window at 640×480 on a 3840×2160 rez monitor, gives you a credit card size window with a really small font.


About that size. Smaller rez’s will make that look bigger of course. Alt-Enter gets you full screen in 6480×480 glory. BUT, a program written for that looks just fine.


As I inserted that picture I’m reminded that sometimes old technology especially with software stays old. At one point I was looking at getting a PL/M compiler working. I had one working when I owned an XT clone, but it’s harder to do with current OS’s

Try to get Internet Explorer 3 working on a modern PC. There’s actually a page that breaks down what browsers will run on each version of windows.

For those of you who use Nano on a Linux box that might look vaguely familiar, but AEDIT is a much more powerful beast that Nano is.

That kind of interface reminds me of Ted an text editor written by Tom Kilhken  in x86 assmbly by published by PCMag. I couldnt find the original, but this is what TED v1.1 looked like:


I remember using the assembly source and modifying it a bit myself. If you want to learn how to write a text editor.  the ASM source for this should be your goto. I used this editor a lot. You can think about is as a Notepad for Windows or a TextEdit for MacOS.

Eventually even TED wasn’t fast enough for me so I wrote a TSR program (that means Terminate and Stay Resident. For DOS that was the only way you could “multitask”.

So full disclosure, I have every DOS and OS/2 program I’ve ever downloaded.

Yes, I’m going to go through all the text editors that I remember using.

I think I ran into another rabbit hole though.









text editors – part I

If that title makes your eyes glaze over you probably won’t want to read this. It’s long, rambling, in several parts as i take you through my text editor journey. 🙂 I’ll try to keep each entry between short… ish.

TL;DR version: MS Visual Code

The very first computer I owned was an Apple ][+ clone built by a friend (Hi Steve). At the time it cost me $600 I wrote a few programs in Applesoft basic for it, but that was about the only typing I did on the computer

I used it before I was enticed by a Commodore 64. Someone I worked with (Eric, where  tf are you?) showed me a copy of a C=64 magazine called Run. The content of that magazine heavily influenced me to go buy one.

I actually went to a stereo store, where they had one. I’d paid $333 CAD (before taxes 🙂 ) I had no way of saving any programs I wrote. I bought it on a Sep and it isn’t until Christmas that I got what they called a dataset which was a proprietary cassette player to save and load programs.

By that point I’d gotten the computer bug, well I’d had it about two years before, but didn’t really recognize it at the time.

AND OMG it’s been over a year since I wrote a blog. Apologies to those who are actually following me.

I was finally able to take a computer program course at the local college, and was able to do a few assignments in Pascal (one of the languages we learned). The course was geared to programming. Basically if you learn to program, doesn’t really make any difference on what language you use, at that point it’s syntax and libraries that will let you write the software you want.

So, text editors.

We were taught, how to write programs in Karel, Pascal, and C. Karel taught us procedural programming, Pascal is just a good general purpose language to learn. and at the time Borland’s Turbo Pascal was probably the best compiler you could get at the time. Nowadays you’d use Python  (3, don’t listen to the v2 whining.)

First text editor I used was a vanilla Vi. Running on a VAX with MS Xenix (a Unix clone). I use a vim plugin for MS VSCode today. I have to laugh when I see people using their mouse to  cut and paste a line.  Only because they have to take their hands of the keyboard.

AT college the admins kept the nice levels painful (look that up if  you don’t know unix/linux)

Ok. Friends Don’t Lie. Vi is painful to learn. It’s a moded editor (look that up too) but is very powerful. Even plain  vanilla Vi. And it comes on every install of linux.

You have to install Emacs specifically if you want to use it on llinux. You’ll probably break your knuckles with key combos though.  Oh, and very extensible, all you have to do is learn Lisp and the Emacs lisp api.  But once I had Emacs wake me up, make my coffee and toast, get me dressed and showered, and send me off to work, and then I used vim to get actual work done. (insert snrk here)

I didn’t, but that’s the claim of Emacs fans who say it can do everything. It probably can, but I just need a good text editor.

A lot of people think that vim is primitive. With all the GUI editors you can get nowadays (ie 2020) then maybe it is. BUT, if you are a touch typist (and that means that not only do you can you find the home row on a keyboard without looking at it,  you can type on it without looking at it. That means you can type while looking at the screen, or not at the screen,  or copy (old term but it means a physical printout  of something) you can even type while someone is dictating to you. So vim for those who started touch typing but now code for a living, it’s a no-brainer.

The next text editor i used was called AEDIT (Ascii Edit). I hate to say this if your a millenial (I’ve ripped on you guys a lot), but when  you text you are actually texting in Ascii code (American Standard Code for Information Interchange)

You can wiki but the standard was finally published in 1963.

AEDIT ran on an operating system called RMX (Realtime Multitasking eXecutive).

My teachers in college made a big deal out of this OS. I got the feeling that that thought it was the next big thing.  In our RMX lab there might have been 15 or 20 of these “Intel Workstations” as Intel called them. They ran on these huge boxes that contained 80186 motherboards that were the size of a vinyl album cover. Big.

I didn’t fail to notice this little $5000 machine in the corner. “Oh, that’s an IBM XT, it’s not going anywhere.”

Yeah. ’nuff said.

I think it’s safe for me to say I’ve read  well over 1000 computer magazines. Likely a lot more. I read them cover to cover including the ads. I was a sponge for computer information.

Out all the magazines I saw exactly 2 (count’em) references to RMX.  You can wiki it, but they are still trying to sell this stone wheel. You can’t even get a price on the website. A quick google will get you a $10k figure.

That is almost like paying that kind of price for a 360k floppy of DOS 3.2.

The difference being you could do more with the floppy.

The development language was PL/M (Programming Language for Machines). It looked a lot like Pascal, except it had no native IO. That’s right nothing like a simple print a character to a screen. Or to a disk.

We had X86 assembly libs that did the job.

AEDIT was written in this language.

I gave up a while ago putting links in blogs. I look at some of mine from 2002 and a lot of the links are long dead. That kind of thing frustrates me when I find old links while surfing.

So a link for AEDIT: Sepp’s homepage

That leads me to my first Rabbit hole. Next entry.