[TUHS] pre-more pager?

Forrest, Jon nobozo at gmail.com
Thu Nov 9 05:29:52 AEST 2017

On 11/8/2017 10:54 AM, Will Senn wrote:
> Hi,

> In the meantime, how did folks page through text like man sh and such
> before more? I know how to view sections of text using sed and ed's ok for
> paging file text (painful, but workable). I just can't seem to locate the
> idiomatic way of keeping everything from constantly scrolling out of view!
> Obviously, this isn't a problem on my mac as terminal works fine, but I
> like to try to stay in character as a 1970 time traveling unix user :).

In the early days of Unix I was told that it wasn't practical to write
a pager because such a thing would have to run in raw mode in order
to process single letter commands, such as the space character for
going on to the next page. Since raw mode introduced a significant amount
of overhead on already overtaxed machines, it was considered an anti-social
thing to do.

In 1977 and 1978 I worked at Ford Aerospace in the group that produced
KSOS, which was a "secure" version of Unix (I didn't actually work on
KSOS myself since I didn't have, nor want, a security clearance). Anyway,
that group used some incredibly expensive HP terminals that contained
enough local memory to contain most text files, the way we overcame the
lack of a pager was to cat the file, and then page around in the local

IIRC later versions of Unix added the ability to respond to a specific
list of single characters without going into raw mode. Of course, that
didn't help when full-screen editors like vi and the Rand editor came out.

Jon Forrest

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