[its-hackers] ITSPKG WINAGE
jack at 3kitty.org
Tue Jun 8 18:28:03 CEST 2021
Re typing in Muddle code...
Although EMACS had a Muddle mode, I remember the most common way of
creating Muddle code circa 1975+ was to use the "editor" package inside
Muddle itself. Sorry, I can't remember the name of the actual package.
The Editor supported a feature called "ampersand printing", in which
code would be compressed on-screen by replacing large chunks of the
program structure with just the ampersand character. So a piece of
code, deep inside some function, might appear on screen as <& <COND
(&)>> or something like that.
While in the Editor, you could navigate around your code by using
up/down/left/right cursor keys to move around the data structure,
inserting or deleting code elements as you wish. You didn't edit
characters, you editted Muddle objects - atoms, lists, whatever. So it
was essentially impossible to get mismatched brackets, because the
editor wouldn't let you put in anything other than some object. You
weren't creating text, you were creating a structure in Muddle directly.
E.g., to create code, you would fire up Muddle, start the editor, and
possibly create a minimal function, e.g., <DEFINE MYFN ()>. (Sorry, I
may have the syntax wrong, it's been a long time....) Then you would
use the arrow keys to build up the contents of the function. Same with
editting an existing function, just load it into the editor and change
as needed. There were ways to control the behavior of the ampersand
behavior so that only the important parts of code were displayed.
So even large and complicated code could be viewed in a way that made
the program logic more visible. Of course you could also run the code,
find problems, and fix them. Eventually you might PPRINT the code to a
text file, but it wasn't necessary. You could always just save it as a
This fit in to the popular philosophy of the day (IIRC Gerry Sussman's)
that Programming was accomplished by "taking a blank sheet of paper and
Before this editor, Muddle code was created and evolved using EMACS or
other editor, as a text file. There was lots of effort involved in
getting your code to fit nicely on a "page" so it could be sent to the
line printer. Listings ruled as the way you looked at large pieces of
After the editor, it became more common to build code without regard to
how it would appear on paper. If the logic of the problem motivated a
many-levels-deep COND tree, that was easy to do, as long as you were
willing to abandon any notion of putting the code on paper.
Does this sound familiar? Has that "editor" been revived?
JFH at MIT-DM 1970-1977
On 6/7/21 10:59 PM, Lars Brinkhoff wrote:
> Richard Shiffman wrote:
>> I was trying out ITSPKG > and FIND/LOAD >. I was able to USE my test
>> packages and I got ambitious and said <USE "MIGSPK">$ And mags loaded
>> and started running I even executed some of the primitive graphics
>> functions and they work correctly. Now I need to get a terminal
>> emulator for either techTronics or for an IMLAC
> Congratulations! I very much look forward to see what you can do with MIGS!
> The ITS git repository references a Tektronix 4010 emulator, and there
> are two Imlac emulators available.
>> One of the biggest headaches of entering MUDDLE code with TextEditor
>> is keeping all the different pairs of brackets matching. If you have a
>> structure editor for Muddle Match open and closing brackets is not a
> Note that ITS EMACS has a MUDDLE Mode, and GNU Emacs has historically
> sported a mim-mode and muddle-mode.
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