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.


















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