NuTek Mac comes

Peter Coghlan cctalk at
Sun Jul 17 17:03:45 CDT 2016

> > What is it that "sucked" about the VMS command line?
> I'm sure there were many, mostly small ones.  Here are the ones big
> enough for me to remember after this many years (this was in the
> early-to-mid '80s):
> - No command-line editing.  (Well, minimal: editing at end-of-line, but
>    only there.)
> - Verbosity.

I've seen a lot of complaints about this over they years but I've never
really understood the problem.  I think wordier commands in a command
procedure  (VMS speak for what others might call a shell script, batch
file or an exec) are easier to understand.  When they are being typed
at a command prompt, they can be abbreviated somewhat to avoid redundant
typing although they will never be as short as in certain other operating

I guess it must irritate a lot of people though because it keeps coming up.

> - Some degree of syntax straitjacket.
> Of these, verbosity is the only one not shared with - or, rather,
> significantly less present in - Unix shells of the time.
> Of course, it also had plenty of up sides too.  The principal one I
> remember was the uniformity of syntax across disparate commands - this
> is the flip side of what I called a "syntax straitjacket" above.

I particularly like that items like dates/times have a standard form and
they they work exactly the same with every command (unless the programmer
just doesn't get the "VMS way" and works really hard to prevent it).

I think that dates/times were done pretty well on VMS with the exception
of a couple of blunders - not going further back than 1858 for the base
date and not having the system manage time in UTC while allowing
individual users to deal with time in whatever timezone they want to be

> For the most part, like Unix shells, DCL was fine: it worked well
> enough for us to get useful stuff done.  (The above
> discussion applies to DCL.  I never used MCR enough to have anything
> useful to say, positive or negative, about it.)

While I like the way DCL processes individual commands, I think it is a bit
weak when it comes to scripting command procedures and I would prefer to have
something that processes commands like DCL but has facilities more like IBM's
REXX for building command procedures (if that doesn't cause too much annoyance
in to those on both sides of the DEC/IBM fence...)

I never used MCR at all.

Peter Coghlan.

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