[TUHS] emacs

Noel Chiappa jnc at mercury.lcs.mit.edu
Fri Aug 4 12:17:28 AEST 2023

    > From: Will Senn

    > when did emacs arrive in unix and was it a full fledged text editor
    > when it came or was it sitting on top of some other subssystem

Montgomery Emacs was the first I knew of; it started on PDP-11 UNIX.
According to:


Montgomery Emacs started in 1980 or so; here:


is a manual from May, 1981.

It had pretty full EMACS functionality, but the editor was not written in an
implementation language of any kind (like the original, and like much later
GNU Emacs); it was written in C. It did have macros for extensions, but they
were written in Emacs commands, so, like the TECO that the original was
written in, their source looks kind of like line noise. (Does anyone young
even know what line noise looks like any more? I feel so old - and I'm a
youngster compared to McIlroy!)

    > Was TECO ever on unix?

I don't think it was widespread, but there was a TECO on the PDP-11 UNIXes at
MIT; until Montgomery Emacs arrived, it was the primary editor used on those

Not that most people used TECO commands for editing; early on, they added '^R
mode' to the UNIX TECO, similar to the one on ITS TECO, and a macro package
was written for it (in TECO - so again, the source looks like line noise);
the command set was like a stripped down EMACS - about a dozen command
characters total; see the table about a page down here:


All the source, and documentation, such as it is, it available, here:


but don't even think about running it. It's written in MACRO-11, and it used
a version of that hacked at MIT to run on UNIX. To build new versions of
that, you need a special linker - written in BCPL. So you also need the UNIX
BCPL compiler.


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