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Re: Is it the 40th Anniversary of Emacs
Re: Is it the 40th Anniversary of Emacs
Fri, 04 Nov 2016 08:40:54 +0100
Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.3 (gnu/linux)
Perry E. Metzger wrote:
> Pierre Lecocq wrote:
>> Perry E. Metzger wrote:
>>> If I'm not mistaken, the first Emacs appeared in late 1976. That
>>> would make this approximately the 40th anniversary, which I think is
>>> notable. Am I correct on that?
>> Now, what month or day is another question!
> I suspect if anyone can tell us, it would be RMS, but I also suspect
> that there was no single moment when it appeared. :)
David Moon, 4 Jul 1978:
In August 1976, a bunch of hackers decided it was time to write a
new editor, using the sharable-library and named-commands (MM)
technology developed by Tmacs, but intended for general use. Tmacs
was not really set up to be used by anyone but its maintainers, and
I think every user had a different set of key bindings, although by
that time it was in use by perhaps eight or ten people. The new
editor, which was initially called "?" because that was a command
name which could not be typed to DDT, was supposed to take full
advantage of the TV keyboards, to have a more sensible and
consistent set of commands, to have good self-documentation, and to
be faster than Tecmac. ? was intended to woo people away from
Richard Stallman, 6 Jul 1978:
1) The name "?" was adopted, as far as I know, only because nobody
had any good idea of a name to use. This case of dumb-striking was
much more severe than usual. So all we could think of was "?" for
"I don't know what it will nbe called".
2) The name E was chosen because I saw that E was one of the
remaining single-letters left which didn't traditionally abbreviate
anything. From E, EMACS followed. That it might confuse Stanford
people was a bonus but not the fundamental motivation. In part,
another motivation was the desire not to use "T", because of the
desire to emphasize that the user would NOT be using TECO.
3) The work done by GLS was
a) to consider a large number of possible command sets, and suggest
many interesting possible commands, and
b) to begin doing actual work (on the purifier and start-up).
Although none of this code survived after a week or so, I might
never have been able to start doing anything if left to myself.
I often have trouble getting off the ground.
4) I'm not really sure why GLS stopped working on EMACS. I think he
was too busy with class-related things, or some such. I had
expected him to stay interested.
5) The first thing done in EMACS was the support software. The
purifier, the loader macro scheme, the scheme for dumping an EMACS
so that it could start up fast, and the self-documentation, were
finished before there were any editing commands. I think this has
helped bring about the quality of the self-documentation.
6) I do remember that :EJ was patched in by some TMACS person before
I heard about it.
7) Most of the theory behind EMACS comes from TMACS, rather than
TECMAC. From TECMAC come only individual commands. I guess that
the ^X prefix character is from TECMAC also, but I'm surprised to
hear that there was any macro package which didn't have prefixes.
8) The first ^R-macro written was an auto-fill space. It was my
example of what could be done with such. I wrote it just after
implementing redefinable characters.
9) I think that RMAIL is important, because it was the first
demonstration that a reliable system program could be written in
TECO, and the first example of one that was invoked other than by
running TECO and typing TECO commands. I was able to document it
without mentioning TECO at all until the place at the end where I
mentioned the Altmode command.
10) When I first heard about TMACS, I assumed that the MM commands
and the ^R commands were the same. When I found out that they used
two separate mechanisms, I was amazed. Making those two be uniform
was one of the primary initial goals of ?, which was going to do in
a reasonable fashion what TMACS had explored with kludges. EMACS is
full of kludges inside, but they are hidden away inside of Generate
Library and EINIT.
Guy Steele, 6 Jul 1978:
The account of my involvement given by RMS is essentially accurate.
I started ? because I was getting tired of the kludginess of the
TCMAC command arrangement, and saw in other editors neat commands
that could not be fit cleanly into TECMAC. I therefore decided to
perform a total reorganization of the command structure, and
carefully examine all the other existing TECO-based editors, such as
RMODE, DOC, and the ever-popular TMACS. Most of my work involved
playing with assignments of commands to keys, and running around
organizing discussions and soliciting comments. I made an initial
stab at a loader, and I think I invented (or re-invented) the notion
of a compressing loader, and invented most of the specific
conventions for the EMACS loader (such as using _ for a space),
though these conventions were greatly refined later. It was at
about this point that RMS and others took over the development work,
and did a much better job, much faster, than I could have. For this
reason, as well as the pressure of classes and the maintenance of
LISP, I was happy to let others take over ?. Thus, while I provided
initial impetus and much of the original user-level command
structure, most of the development work and succeeding refinements
is to the credit of other people.
The name "?" was chosen not only because it was hard to type to DDT
(one could win with '?), and so would force a more rational choice
of name later, but also because the initial work was by Quux (GLS),
strongly influenced by Moon, hence Quux/Moon => QM => Question Mark.