Recommend IDE for coding in "C" -- some historical context

Buddha Buck blaisepascal at
Thu Mar 21 14:56:04 EDT 2013

On Thu, Mar 21, 2013 at 2:31 PM, Hendrik Boom <hendrik at>wrote:

> On Wed, 20 Mar 2013 13:13:00 -0400, Buddha Buck wrote:
> > Paul,
> >
> >
> > It should be noted that in Linux/Unix, all the development tools are
> > command-line based, and so any IDE is going to call make, gcc, git, gdb,
> > javac, etc behind the scenes anyway to do the actual work.
> And C was originally invented jointly with a command-line Unix system.
> So using it this way fits with tradition.

Yup.  Worse, from an editing/developing standpoint, the standard terminal
was a teletype terminal, a combination printer and keyboard that usually
printed at the rate of about 4 characters/second (45 Baud).  This virtually
demanded a terse command line syntax and the bare minimum of excess output.

>  Emacs has a reputation for being heavyweight and larded with features,

> >  but
> > I've found that compared to modern editors with a fraction of the
> > capabilities, it's rather lightweight and spry.  The old joke that the
> > name means "Eight Megabytes And Constantly Swapping" is meaningless when
> > your browser can take a gig of memory.
> What emacs accomplished in those early days was to be a UI for text
> terminals.  You had multiple 'buffers', which could be put in differennt
> places on the screen, or placed in the background to be recalled later.
> Some buffers would contain files t edit, others aould act as command-
> language terminals, and so forth.

It still does those things, which is still very, very useful.

> Emacs  i those days was as much of a way of life as desktop GUIs are now.
> That's why it was big.
> But compared to today's memory hogs, it's tiny.
> > Vi -- This is almost as old as Emacs, but wasn't originally written to
> > be quite as extensible.  Like Emacs, it's text-and-keyboard oriented.
> > It provides syntax highlighting, but I'm not sure about hooks to other
> > tools.
> >  I don't use it for development myself, that much.  It has always been
> > considered lightweight compared to Emacs.
> The first time I saw vi, it was already on a system that had mouse-and-
> windows.  Whether vi or X windows was first, I suspect that functionality
> that might have drifted into vi got placed in the window system instead.

X was started as a project in 1984 at MIT. Both Emacs (from MIT) and vi
(from Berkeley) were first written in 1976 or so.  Both Emacs and vi came
out of a desire to make line or tape oriented editors easier to use on the
new-fangled CRT displays.  Emacs was originally a set of macros for the
TECO (Tape Editor and COrrector) editor, while vi started as the new VIsual
mode for the standard Unix text editor ex, which in turn was an enhanced
version of the older Unix text editor ed (both of which are very powerful
for editing stuff on a teletype).  TECO already had the concept of being
able to write macros (a sequence of commands that could be bound to a
single key), which ex didn't (or didn't use as much), so making Emacs
extensible in the same way was an obvious thing to do.  On the other hand,
the original goal of vi was to make ex commands easier to see what they
were doing.

> -- hendrik
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