Genealogy of Vim

Daniel Weibel
Created 26 Jun 2017

Vim hasn’t just been invented out of nothing, it has a line of ancestors going back to the 1960’s, and it is in the same family with editors like grep, sed, and awk.

The following list gives an overview:

  • qed (UC Berkely, 1966)
    • ed (Ken Thompson, 1969): editor for UNIX
      • ex (Bill Joy, 1976): reimplementation of ed for video (rather than teletype) terminals
        • vi (Bill Joy, 1979): visual mode of ex; originally, vi was a part of ex (enter with ex command vi or visual), but soon, the visual mode became very popular, and ex became a part of vi (enter “ex mode” from vi or vim with Q)
          • vim (Bram Moolenaar, 1991): enhanced clone of vi
      • grep (Ken Thompson, 1974): standalone tool for ed command g/re/p, where re stands for any regular expression
      • sed (Lee McMahon, 1974): generalisation of the g/re/X usage of ed resulting in an editor applying commands to a stream of lines
        • awk (Aho, Weinberger, Kernighan, 1977): stream-oriented editor like sed, but enormously generalised and expanded