“I use Emacs, which might be thought of as a thermonuclear word processor.” — Neal Stephenson
From In the beginning was the command line
Giving Emacs another try
Personal organization software
I’ve used emacs, yet have not the foggiest notion of what his statement might mean.
I also use Emacs, and I think it’s just a littler overblown but, if I squint a bit, I can see what he means. (He lays it out pretty clearly in the following text, too.) He means Emacs is more featureful, more customizable, more explorable, and generally just more than any other way to edit text. Compare a nuclear power plant to a charcoal grill.
Which is because it isn’t really a way to edit text. It’s a user interface that represents a unique user interface design, which is another way of saying it’s a way of thinking and generating new thoughts about what you can do with a computer. It’s merely that its main unifying idea is ‘most things can be usefully viewed as text’, which leads to it being called a text editor and confused with, say, Notepad or pico.
[...] Thermonuclear word processor Retro computing [...]
John D. Cook
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