20 Facts About Emacs


The manual for the most widely used variant, GNU Emacs, describes it as "the extensible, customizable, self-documenting, real-time display editor".

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Development of the first Emacs began in the mid-1970s, and work on its direct descendant, GNU Emacs, continues actively; the latest version is 28.

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XEmacs is a variant that branched from GNU Emacs in 1991.

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Emacs is, along with vi, one of the two main contenders in the traditional editor wars of Unix culture.

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Emacs is among the oldest free and open source projects still under development.

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Emacs development began during the 1970s at the MIT AI Lab, whose PDP-6 and PDP-10 computers used the Incompatible Timesharing System operating system that featured a default line editor known as Tape Editor and Corrector .

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Emacs was impressed by the editor's intuitive WYSIWYG behavior, which has since become the default behavior of most modern text editors.

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Multics Emacs was later maintained by Richard Soley, who went on to develop the NILE Emacs-like editor for the NIL Project, and by Barry Margolin.

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Many versions of Emacs, including GNU Emacs, would later adopt Lisp as an extension language.

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GNU Emacs was initially based on Gosling Emacs, but Stallman's replacement of its Mocklisp interpreter with a true Lisp interpreter required that nearly all of its code be rewritten.

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GNU Emacs is written in C and provides Emacs Lisp, implemented in C, as an extension language.

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In September 2014, it was announced on the GNU emacs-devel mailing list that GNU Emacs would adopt a rapid release strategy and version numbers would increment more quickly in the future.

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GNU Emacs development was relatively closed until 1999 and was used as an example of the Cathedral development style in The Cathedral and the Bazaar.

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Emacs is primarily a text editor and is designed for manipulating pieces of text, although it is capable of formatting and printing documents like a word processor by interfacing with external programs such as LaTeX, Ghostscript or a web browser.

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Emacs provides commands to manipulate and differentially display semantic units of text such as words, sentences, paragraphs and source code constructs such as functions.

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GNU Emacs is a real-time display editor, as its edits are displayed onscreen as they occur.

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Almost all of the functionality in Emacs, including basic editing operations such as the insertion of characters into a file, is achieved through functions written in a dialect of the Lisp programming language.

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Any interaction with the editor is realized by evaluating Emacs Lisp code, typically a command, which is a function explicitly designed for interactive use.

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Church of Emacs, formed by Richard Stallman, is a parody religion created for Emacs users.

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The Space-cadet keyboard on which Emacs was developed had oversized Control keys that were adjacent to the space bar and were easy to reach with the thumb.

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