[TUHS] Is the Teletype the unsung hero of Unix?

Diomidis Spinellis dds at aueb.gr
Sat Mar 26 07:03:59 AEST 2016

On 25/03/2016 16:43, Aharon Robbins wrote:
> I have long theorized that the reason for the short names is that since
> typing was so physically demanding, it was natural to make the command
> names (and all the rest) be short and easier to type.  I don't know if
> this was a conscious decision, but I suspect it more likely to have been
> an unconscious / natural one.

In a paper we will present at this year's International Conference on 
Software Engineering we show (among other things) that the mean length 
of identifiers in Unix C source code has risen from 3.5 to 7.5 
characters from 1973 until today. We also observed a corresponding rise 
in the length of lines and files. Better terminals can be one reason for 
this rise. Other possible reasons may be increased software complexity 
as well as CPU power and memory that allowed the processing of more 
verbose code.

I've uploaded a preprint at 

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