On Sat, Mar 6, 2021 at 4:38 PM Larry McVoy <lm@mcvoy.com> wrote:
On Sun, Mar 07, 2021 at 08:31:57AM +1100, Dave Horsfall wrote:
> (Straying into COFF territory here)
> On Fri, 5 Mar 2021, John Gilmore wrote:
> >The one that got me was make(1).  Being used to text editors that used
> >"tab" as a command rather than a literal character, I proposed a fix early
> >on at Sun that would allow leading spaces as well as tabs in Makefiles.
> >(I think this was in the Unisoft Unix days, pre-BSD.)  Bill Shannon
> >actually put it into their source tree.  But in a few days or weeks, he
> >took it back out, because he realized that Makefiles built on Suns using
> >leading spaces wouldn't work anywhere else.
> I loathe make's distinguishment between tabs and spaces; they look the same
> on the screen, and last I looked computers are supposed to serve humans and
> not the other way around.

Has anyone asked Stu Feldman why make wanted a tab?  Or does anyone know?
I have to believe there was a better reason than it was one tab vs
8 spaces.
According to Eric Raymond in Chapter 15. Tools: make: Automating Your Recipes", The Art of Unix Programming

Why the tab in column 1? Yacc was new, Lex was brand new. I hadn't tried either, so I figured this would be a good excuse to learn. After getting myself snarled up with my first stab at Lex, I just did something simple with the pattern newline-tab. It worked, it stayed. And then a few weeks later I had a user population of about a dozen, most of them friends, and I didn't want to screw up my embedded base. The rest, sadly, is history.

— Stuart Feldman