[TUHS] Slashes (was: MS-DOS)

Random832 random832 at fastmail.com
Sat Jul 9 04:23:11 AEST 2016

On Fri, Jul 8, 2016, at 10:52, Clem Cole wrote:
> ​I can not speak for anyone else.   But at the time when I was a part
> of the /usr/group UNIX standards** mtgs  I personally do not believe I
> had ever heard of the term "​solidus." Such a term maybe had been used
> in my first form Latin classes from the 1960s, but by the 1980s  I had
> long ago forgotten any/all of my Latin.  I certainly did not try to
> remember it as a computer professional.
> In those days many of us, including me, did (and still do) refer to
> the asterisk as "splat" and the exclamation point as "bang"  from the
> sound made by them when they printed yellow oiled paper @ 10 cps from
> the console TTY.  But slash was what we called the character that is
> now next to the shift key on modern keyboards.   I do not remember
> ever using, much less needed to refer to, the character "back slash"
> until the unfortunate crap that the folks in Redmond forced on the
> industry.

You never had to use it for escaping in C/Regex/Troff/etc?

>  Although interestingly enough, the vertical bar or UNIX "pipe" symbol
>  was used and discussed freely in those days.   I find it interesting
>  that Redmond-ism became the unshifted character, not the vertical bar
>  by the shear force of economics of the PC.

ASCII keyboards had \ unshifted long before the PC.  The ASR-33 didn't
have it (it didn't have pipe at all - backslash was on shift-L), but
every DEC keyboard I can find did, as did the ADM-3a, and incidentally
the Symbolics Lisp Machine's keyboard.

I had suspected the reason that [\] ended up as the unshifted characters
is because {|} were not available on uppercase-only keyboards, but I
can't find any uppercase terminals that had separate keys for them (the
ASR-33 had them on shift- KLM). I expect that's also why ^, on shift-N,
was used for pipes rather than the vertical bar in the earliest versions
of Unix that had them.

What terminals did you use, back in those days?

(Incidentally, I can find *literally no* pictures of a Teletype 37,
and no sufficiently high-quality closeups of a 38 to determine its
keyboard layout)

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