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Re: editor and word processor history (was: Re: RTF for emacs)

From: Robert Thorpe
Subject: Re: editor and word processor history (was: Re: RTF for emacs)
Date: Fri, 30 May 2014 02:52:44 +0100

Emanuel Berg <> writes:
> OK, but then how did the data get on the tape/disk in
> the first place?

Barry Margolin gave most of the answers.

Programs were typed in using keypunches which wrote to punched cards or
using devices that wrote to paper tape.  The program was then
submitted as a stack of cards or a tape to the sysadmins who ran the
computer.  The computer would then "SPOOL" copying the paper information
to magnetic tape where it could be accessed later.  Once that happened
the user could do various things like edit the code, compile it and so

This meant there was a delay between the user's information being sent
and the program execution.  Often in that time errors could be found.
In that case the user could run an editor from a teletype and fix the
errors.  Doing that wouldn't necessarily require the teletype to print
out each line of code being changed.  That's why in early editors there
were commands to print out lines of code, but things could be done
without them.

This was all high technology compared to the early days when everything
submitted on cards was compiled and executed without question.  In those
early days there were no editors.  Everything depended on punched cards
and there were special machines to deal with them which were a partial
substitute.  (Even in the 1970s most small IBM computers were only sold
with peripheral for reading and punching cards.)

Robert Thorpe

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