[TUHS] keyboards and command names

Andrew Newman atrn at optusnet.com.au
Thu Feb 6 07:03:49 AEST 2020

> On 6 Feb 2020, at 2:05 am, Rich Morin <rdm at cfcl.com> wrote:
> I have always suspected that the brevity of the Unix command names was strongly
> influenced by the clunky keyboards on the teletypes that were being used.  Can
> anyone confirm, deny, and/or comment on this?

(other replies seen, nice to hear dmr’s confirmation)

Somewhat related.  My first “real” job after university, and introduction to UNIX
et al, was using IBM machines running VM/370 and the CMS single-user OS for user
accounts.  CMS used long command names but, like some other OSes of its ilk, allowed
you to define what it called “abbreviations" via a count of the minimum number of
unique, leading, characters from which it could determine the actual command name.
The CMS file copy program was “copyfile” but the abbreviation length, at least at
our “shop", was 2 and everyone used “co”.  Similarly the editor “xedit” was “x”.
I always found that amusing considering complaints about cryptic UNIX names.

(apologies if this appears twice, first attempt used the wrong From: address).

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