[TUHS] tabs vs spaces - entab, detab

Will Senn will.senn at gmail.com
Mon Mar 8 11:52:08 AEST 2021

On 3/5/21 11:08 AM, Clem Cole wrote:
> On Thu, Mar 4, 2021 at 9:07 PM Will Senn <will.senn at gmail.com 
> <mailto: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.
Interesting. I continually forget the hardware that existed back in the 
day. I vaguely remember using line printers, but then it was laser not 
too long after that, so it's pretty fuzzy. My coding days came in the 
dot matrix days, but again laser was not too long after that :). I 
definitely heart 72 character lines - but prolly cuz of email more than 
anything else except maybe the adage of, if it won't fit on screen (in a 
terminal window), it's probably too complicated, which I still think is 
After this thread, I think I'll probably stick to tabs because they seem 
to work better across environments.

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