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The meaning of «vi»

vi (pronounced as distinct letters, /ˌviːˈaɪ/)[1] is a screen-oriented text editor originally created for the Unix operating system. The portable subset of the behavior of vi and programs based on it, and the ex editor language supported within these programs, is described by (and thus standardized by) the Single Unix Specification and POSIX.[2]

The original code for vi was written by Bill Joy in 1976, as the visual mode for a line editor called ex that Joy had written with Chuck Haley.[3] Bill Joy's ex 1.1 was released as part of the first Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) Unix release in March 1978. It was not until version 2.0 of ex, released as part of Second BSD in May 1979 that the editor was installed under the name "vi" (which took users straight into ex's visual mode),[4] and the name by which it is known today. Some current implementations of vi can trace their source code ancestry to Bill Joy; others are completely new, largely compatible reimplementations.[citation needed][discuss]

The name "vi" is derived from the shortest unambiguous abbreviation for the ex command visual, which switches the ex line editor to visual mode. The name is pronounced /ˈviːˈaɪ/ (the English letters v and i).[5][6]

In addition to various non–free software variants of vi distributed with proprietary implementations of Unix, vi was opensourced with OpenSolaris, and several free and open source software vi clones exist. A 2009 survey of Linux Journal readers found that vi was the most widely used text editor among respondents, beating gedit, the second most widely used editor, by nearly a factor of two (36% to 19%).[7]

vi was derived from a sequence of UNIX command line editors, starting with ed, which was a line editor designed to work well on teleprinters, rather than display terminals. Within AT&T Corporation, where ed originated, people seemed to be happy with an editor as basic and unfriendly as ed, George Coulouris recalls:[8]

[...] for many years, they had no suitable terminals. They carried on with TTYs and other printing terminals for a long time, and when they did buy screens for everyone, they got Tektronix 4014s. These were large storage tube displays. You can't run a screen editor on a storage-tube display as the picture can't be updated. Thus it had to fall to someone else to pioneer screen editing for Unix, and that was us initially, and we continued to do so for many years.

Coulouris considered the cryptic commands of ed to be only suitable for "immortals", and thus in February 1976, he enhanced ed (using Ken Thompson's ed source as a starting point) to make em (the "editor for mortals"[9]) while acting as a lecturer at Queen Mary College.[8] The em editor was designed for display terminals and was a single-line-at-a-time visual editor. It was one of the first programs on Unix to make heavy use of "raw terminal input mode", in which the running program, rather than the terminal device driver, handled all keystrokes. When Coulouris visited UC Berkeley in the summer of 1976, he brought a DECtape containing em, and showed the editor to various people. Some people considered this new kind of editor to be a potential resource hog, but others, including Bill Joy, were impressed.[8]

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via* vib* vic* vid* vie* vif* vig* vih* vii* vij* vik* vil* vim* vin* vio* vip* viq* vir* vis* vit* viu* viv* viw* vix* viy* viz*
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