[TUHS] cat -v and other complaints

Andy Kosela akosela at andykosela.com
Fri Sep 7 14:40:37 AEST 2018

Dan Cross <crossd at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Thu, Sep 6, 2018 at 5:56 PM Andy Kosela <akosela at andykosela.com> wrote:
> > [snip]  Well, you can't tell me
> > this system was designed with the idea of running it using text terminal
> > and no mouse.
> I won't, because it wouldn't be true. You are correct that it was always
> intended to be used with a graphical console. But you keep talking about
> "text terminals" and therein lies the confusion: our text terminals haven't
> been purely "text" since the teletype days. Even green-screen serial
> terminals have graphics adapters to draw characters on the screen.

I think I was clear enough and meant 'text terminal' as a physical glass
TTY e.g.  vt220 from DEC, but understand now why someone might have
interpreted it differently.

There is also a big difference between a text mode (character mode)
where what we see on the screen is addressed in terms of characters
rather than individual pixels and a bitmap mode (graphics mode) also
known as APA (all points addressable) mode where every pixel is

Inherent in the text mode is also the concept of monospace fonts which
some people prefer to this day.

> There is also no cursor addressing, no curses.
> Actually, there *is* a graphical program to emulate a vt-series terminal,
> but pretty much no one uses it. So while strictly speaking this is
> incorrect, it is essentially correct for all intents and purposes.
> But it begs the question: why would you *want* to use that sort of
> interface? That was appropriate for an HP or DEC terminal connected via a
> low-bandwidth link (e.g., serial) or a shared host computer. Once we moved
> onto personal workstation-class machines with graphics adapters, why
> continue with that paradigm? 

Why there are still people running C64, Atari XL/XE or Amiga?  Even
more, some of them think those computers are still better than the
machines of today...

In the Unix community there are some that still prefer to use old CRT
terminals or MS-DOS era PC monitors using only text mode.  Why I can't
speak for all of them, I can speak for myself and explain my motivation
behind it.  I instantly fell in love with a text mode when I first
started computing on Commodore and Atari machines in the 80s and then
naturally advanced to a text mode on MS-DOS era PC's. 

I never really ran Linux or *BSDs with X Window System -- always
preferred pure text mode.  It is aesthetically pleasing and most elegant
to converse with a machine using only text, and a text mode as displayed
on cathode ray tube (CRT) is the most beautiful representation of such
an idea. 

Although these days I'm using sometimes MacBook (who doesn't?)
which is using of course the bitmap mode, I still prefer to experience
the full text mode on a real CRT and actually collect them as they are
becoming more and more rare.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Text_mode


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