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I grew up learning to program in the late 1980s / early 1990s. Back then, I did not fully comprehend what I was doing and why the tools I used were impressive given the constraints of the hardware we had. Having gained more knowledge throughout the years, it is now really fun to pick up DOSBox to re-experience those programs and compare them with our current state of affairs. This time around, I want to look at the pure text-based IDEs that we had in that era before Windows eclipsed the PC industry. I want to do this because those IDEs had little to envy from the IDEs of today—yet it feels as if we went through a dark era where we lost most of those features for years and they are only resurfacing now. If anything, stay for a nostalgic ride back in time and a little rant on “bloat”. But, more importantly, read on to gain perspective on what existed before so that you can evaluate future feature launches more critically.
The computers of yesteryear had this little feature known as blinking LED lights 🔆. They also had this other feature called noisy disks 💾 and loud fans . Uh wait. Features? Why “features” and not “annoyances”?! 🧵👇 Front panel of a common PC case in the late 1990s. My Pentium MMX 166 was hosted in one of these. You see, these bright lights and loud noises acted as canaries 🐦 in a performance mine.
It’s more likely than you think! In a surprising twist of events, Microsoft is exploring the addition of a command-line (CLI) text editor to Windows. If you ask me, not having a CLI text editor on Windows is mind-boggling: you can access a Windows machine via SSH these days, so not having an editor that works in the console is a big handicap for remote system administration. So, should Windows bundle a CLI text editor?