More on ed

Last month I wrote in amazement that there was someone who (still) liked using the ed editor. If you’re coming in late, ed is a line editor that was used extensively by the early Unix developers. That made a lot of sense when the input device was a teletype but, in my opinion, makes no sense at all in today’s world. I say “in my opinion” because, as I pointed out in that last post, at least one person disagrees.

Either serendipitously or as a case of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, a thread on that very subject recently appeared on the Unix Heritage Society mailing list. In it many people wax nostalgic for ed and even the more horrible TECO editor. A surprisingly large number of them report still using it as an everyday tool. Ed has lived on mostly as an editor of last resort for fixing Unix systems that can’t mount the normal file systems that contain things like vi or emacs. Some folks, though, refuse to give it up.

I have a hard enough time trying to understand why anyone would prefer editors other than Vim or Emacs so a preference for ed makes no sense at all to me. But as they used to say back when ed was the Unix editor, “Different strokes for different folks.”

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