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Re: Emacs and the modern world



Jason White <jason@jasonjgw.net> writes:

> It is also a mistake to believe that because a piece of software is old, there
> must be something better available by now. In fact, some of the best software
> is good precisely due to its having been developed and improved over decades,
> with contributions from a vibrant community.

"Recently produced" and "innovative" aren't the same thing.  Is anyone on
this list familiar with an operating system called TOPS-20?  It was one
of the operating systems available for DEC's PDP-10 computers.  TOPS-20 is older
than I am.
Its shell, known as the exec in TOPS-20 parlance, makes Unix shells look
primitive by comparison.  TOPS-20's command interpreter had context-sensitive
help.  It could tell you which sort of argument it was expecting
(for example, a filename, a number, a switch, et cetera).
It had command completion (as do BASH and later Unix shells).
The exec also allowed abbreviated input of commands.  For instance, the command 
to display the current date is "daytime", but you can abbreviate it to
"day".  In other words, the command-line interface was innovative and
extremely user-friendly.  So why aren't modern command interpreters quite
as usable?

The OP in this thread mentioned the web.  Realize that the web is hardly
a new idea.  Hypertext has been with us since the late 1960s or so.  We've
had protocols for pushing bytes down a wire for a long time, too.  XML
is basically a way of transmitting tree-structured data.  So are Lisp's
s-expressions.  The sexprs are a lot more concise than XML.
What is really modern about the web?  The buzzwords and the standards?

One thing that makes Emacs so relevant is that extensibility was
designed into the software from the outset.  The uses of Emacs are limited
only by the imagination and ability of its users.

Hope that didn't sound like a rant!

Regards,
-- Chris

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