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The Editor of a Lifetime—11 Aug 2014

Perry Metzger

Perry Metzger has been using Emacs as his text editor since early September, 1983—nearly 31 years. Over much of that time, it has also been his primary way to read email, compile programs, and perform a variety of other tasks.

Why would anyone use a single program for that long? This talk is partially intended to answer that question.

Emacs remains one of the most important user interfaces (and text editors) for computer professionals almost 40 years after it was created. The talk is intended to be part history, part philosophy, and part speculation on the future. It will also teach Emacs fans how to explain to their skeptical friends why it is still a good idea to learn a tool from the terminal era that requires memorization of dozens of control sequences in an age of GUIs and smart phones.

Perry is (among other things) a programmer, a computer security consultant, and a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania. When he started using Emacs in 1983, it was still written in TECO, and portions of his Emacs init file date to 1985. He expects to still be using Emacs for decades to come.

Perry has also made his slides available.

WebM (117.9 MB) | MP4 (786.2 MB)

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