I was reminded of people's posts about preferred text editors in another post, so I thought I'd do the same, but also add some super old technology that I used along the way.

The first text editor I consistently used was pico. I used it to write my first webpage at school.edu/~username. It was a natural choice, because the it was the default text editor in pine, which is what we would all use for our email after opening a serial connection to the college's Digital Unix server. Or if we were the lucky ones who had a computer in a wired dorm, telnet. My dorm was not wired until my sophomore year.

I got my first job in tech in 2001, working as a night shift tier-one support technician. By this time, most people were using web based email, or POP3, but I wanted to keep using pine (or elm, or mutt) because I was totally in love with the command line by this time, and had been playing with Linux for two or three years by now. I arranged a handshake deal with a guy in my home town who had a couple well-connected NetBSD servers, to let me have an account on one for email and web hosting (a relatively new idea at the time).

I recall telnetting into my shared hosting account from the HP-UX workstations we had in the control room. I would look at webpages on HTML conventions and standards, and I kept seeing references to this thing called vi. I looked into it more deeply, and found that it was a text editor, and was the reason I always had to CTRL-Z out of elm. I was already finding pico to be lacking, so I found a modern implementation of vi called vim that was already installed on the aforementioned NetBSD server, and read through vimtutor on it. I was hooked instantly. The modality massively appealed to me, and I found editing files to be an absolute delight, compared to pico, and its nascent open source offspring/successor, nano.

My position on that hasn't changed in the years that have passed since then.

What's your text editor origin story?

  • 1
    I really love reading thorough stories like this. 😊
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