[TUHS] UNIX Backslash History

Michael Kjörling michael at kjorling.se
Mon Oct 28 22:00:02 AEST 2019

On 27 Oct 2019 21:11 -0400, from usotsuki at buric.co (Steve Nickolas):
> On Sun, 27 Oct 2019, Grant Taylor via TUHS wrote:
>> Is there any relation between Multics' use of ">" as a directory
>> separator and MS-DOS's default use of ">" at the end of the command
>> prompt?
> I can't imagine there's any such connection.  MS-DOS got it from CP/M, which
> didn't even have the concept of subdirectories until after MS-DOS did.

If there was such a relationship, it would probably make more sense
for the command prompt termination character to be ":", not ">", as
DOS labelled devices as [whatever]: (like "A:" or "NUL:"). So I agree
with Steve; I imagine it's unrelated. They just had to use _something_
as a default to indicate that the computer is waiting for a command,
and ">" is as good a character as any.

In either case, since MS-DOS/PC-DOS did what CP/M already did in that
regard, the question would probably need to be posed to Kildall where
he got it from. Unless Kildall wrote it down, getting a first hand
account on the reasoning behind that particular choice would be...

Michael Kjörling • https://michael.kjorling.semichael at kjorling.se
  “The most dangerous thought that you can have as a creative person
              is to think you know what you’re doing.” (Bret Victor)

More information about the TUHS mailing list