[TUHS] tabs vs spaces - entab, detab

Clem Cole clemc at ccc.com
Sat Mar 6 03:08:24 AEST 2021

On Thu, Mar 4, 2021 at 9:07 PM Will Senn <will.senn at gmail.com> wrote:

> Ha. I didn’t intend to reignite a flamewar.
I warned ya ...  🤔

 But, i’m still curious about entab/detab abd expand, etc. Were they oor
> some of them created to help with this or what?
That's probably best for bwk, Ken, or Doug that go back to pre-UNIX times
at BTL.    As was pointed out, bwk had them the SW tools book, so the
need/use go back pretty far.

As someone else pointed out, in the days of printing terminals like the 10
cps horizontal tabs *sometimes* printed faster if they were a mechanical
scheme built into the HW.  On the other hand (and I don't feel like
finding/looking up at an ASR 33 manual), my memory is that it did not have
tabs stops and the UNIX TTY hander expanded them to spaces so even that was
not going to help.  Also as someone else said, in those days we had 132/133
column line printer listing - which again printed >>much<< faster than the
10 cps terminal.   So the 8-space = 1 tab scheme certainly >>might<< make
sense since it was enforced by the HW.

Space was always an issue in the old days, but frankly; again I have no
memory of thinking -- "better use tabs as it will save space in my file" or
that it would process faster since few characters had to be read/written.
I do remember the programs existing, but don't have any memories of ever
using them.

In my own case, I had been taught the golden rule of "use the style that is
already in use" - which I admit, was a hard lesson when I was young I
admit.   But since I was working in those says supporting (assembler) code
that existed, and I was very much the padawan to many great masters, I was
trying to learn.   At some point, I started to work with HLLS on the
PDP-10, as opposed to IBM BAL and I started to

But when I started to learn C, it was strange, since it forced me to accept
'one true bracing style' of the kernel/K&R even if it was different from
what we had been using with BLISS/SAIL/Algol/Pascal from whence I just
come.  But like many people that have finished re-education camps, came to
prefer and anything else ugly and difficult to read.
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