Vi Developed for Slow 300 baud Connections

· 6 January 2012 ·

   1 min read


This is a lost post from my early blogs around 2012, rediscovered and posted here in mid-2020

Interesting discussion on Hacker News about an interview with Bill Joy, creator of Vi.

Joy mentions that one of the most important use cases was that, in those days, everyone had only a 300 baud connection to the host. That meant the editor had to be efficient in screen repaints while interacting with commands from the user.

You would think that is no longer a consideration. Almost everyone has at least an ADSL connection.

It turns out that the more things change, the more they stay the same. That use case has come back.

The reason? People using smart phones to ssh into their cloud service (such as Amazon AWS), sometimes over a satellite link (while sitting in their yacht in the Bahamas… lucky bastards). Lag becomes important, and vi still fits the bill.

I like it. Perhaps a new goal for 2012 is to get myself in a boat/place where I can find out for myself how responsive vi is on a laggy connection.