I found this program called Cathode that does an incredible job of recreating the experience of writing code on a CRT display, ca. 1980–83. Many was the hour I logged on the Lear-Sigler ADM-3A — in those days time was logged, so you could pay for it. That was incredibly unfair since the I/O (for l’users) was throttled down to 4800 baud.
Check it out. Then give it up, before the ergonomics make you blind.
As a sort of colophon, the code I’m editing here is genuine K&R C, from the Old Testament. There are two anachronisms:
I’m using vi to edit it, but in the day I was busy getting all carpal with emacs. I had no choice here: there might be an Emacs on my system, but if there is, I can’t remember how to get out.
I wrote this code in 1992, by which time we used terminal emulators like Kermit on PCs, instead of real terminals. However, it was a recreation of something I wrote in about 1983 to translate English into “Klingonese.” (Not the stuff used by Star Trek fans. That came later. I’m talking STA KANG, PUSHJ JRST.)
To be fair, I don’t think I ever wrote C on the ADM-3A, or even a VT-100. I don’t think the DECSystem-20 even had a C compiler. All my C was on the VAX, which had HP-2621A terminals.
I just noticed that URS, the company that bought the Military-Industrial Complex-related operations of EG&G, also owns some portion of the old Lear-Siegler corporation. I found that interesting because I used to work for EG&G, and before that, I used to do programming on the ADM-3A terminal. Small world.