Re: Purely historic question: VT200 text graphic programming

Discussion in 'Python' started by Adam Tauno Williams, Mar 10, 2011.

  1. On Thu, 2011-03-10 at 00:38 -0600, GrayShark wrote:
    > Once, many, many, years ago, I programmed some type of 'graphical'
    > interface on a VT200 terminal (only DEC VAX/VMS programmers are going to
    > know what this is). Question. What was the library I linked against?
    > Yes, you remember, painting boxes with ascii and the superset of ascii.


    It was curses [ these days people typically use "ncurses" ]. There
    really isn't anything historic about it, it is used in many current
    projects/products - basically anything that will run in a gnome-terminal
    [such as YaST] uses ncurses. It works very well from Python. [for
    example:
    http://www.whitemiceconsulting.com/2010/01/python-curses-in-action-even-on-aix.html ]
    There are several higher level 'wrappers' for ncurses these days.

    Docs @ <http://docs.python.org/howto/curses.html>
     
    Adam Tauno Williams, Mar 10, 2011
    #1
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  2. On 2011-03-10, Adam Tauno Williams <> wrote:
    > On Thu, 2011-03-10 at 00:38 -0600, GrayShark wrote:
    >> Once, many, many, years ago, I programmed some type of 'graphical'
    >> interface on a VT200 terminal (only DEC VAX/VMS programmers are going to
    >> know what this is). Question. What was the library I linked against?
    >> Yes, you remember, painting boxes with ascii and the superset of ascii.

    >
    > It was curses [ these days people typically use "ncurses" ].


    Curses that can't be what the OP is referring to.

    Curses wasn't a VAX/VMS thing, it was a Unix thing (that has been
    ported to other platforms as well). VMS did have it's own
    text-screen-widget library sort of like curses+panel, but I don't
    remember what it was called. Some googling coughs up FMS and
    DECforms. I vageuly remember using one or the other, but that was a
    long time ago (25 years).

    At first first I thought he was talking about ReGIS, but that wasn't
    available on the vt200 (it was on vt240/330/340).

    --
    Grant Edwards grant.b.edwards Yow! I didn't order any
    at WOO-WOO ... Maybe a YUBBA
    gmail.com ... But no WOO-WOO!
     
    Grant Edwards, Mar 10, 2011
    #2
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  3. On 2011-03-10, GrayShark <> wrote:
    > On Thu, 10 Mar 2011 18:02:41 +0000, Grant Edwards wrote:
    >
    >> On 2011-03-10, Adam Tauno Williams <> wrote:
    >>> On Thu, 2011-03-10 at 00:38 -0600, GrayShark wrote:
    >>>> Once, many, many, years ago, I programmed some type of 'graphical'
    >>>> interface on a VT200 terminal (only DEC VAX/VMS programmers are going
    >>>> to know what this is). Question. What was the library I linked
    >>>> against? Yes, you remember, painting boxes with ascii and the superset
    >>>> of ascii.
    >>>
    >>> It was curses [ these days people typically use "ncurses" ].

    >>
    >> Curses that can't be what the OP is referring to.
    >>
    >> Curses wasn't a VAX/VMS thing, it was a Unix thing (that has been ported
    >> to other platforms as well).

    [...]

    > Actually it was curses;


    You tricked me by saying only DEC VAX/VMS programmers would know what
    it was. In fact, many, many Unix programmers knew about curses (and
    still do) and very few VMS programmers ever did. C wasn't very widely
    used under VMS, and VMS had it's own screen formatting and form
    handling libraries.

    > it came with the C compiler.


    Yep, along with a bunch of other libraries that originated in the Unix
    world. For the full dose of surrealism, you could install DECShell
    and have a pretty complete Bourne shell command-line environment with
    the whole suite of v7 utilities. The process-creation overhead on VMS
    was _brutal_ and shell scripts ran dog-slow -- but they ran.

    > What was more entertaining was that I using a legacy Fortran program,
    > DEC Fortran (actually had pointers!) and linking to a C curses
    > interface.
    >
    > Most exciting. The rest of the project was about realtime data
    > collect and processing on a microvax III. In the mid-90, that wasn't
    > doable at 1 milliscond time steps. VMS was just not realtime aware.


    --
    Grant Edwards grant.b.edwards Yow! I'm receiving a coded
    at message from EUBIE BLAKE!!
    gmail.com
     
    Grant Edwards, Mar 10, 2011
    #3
  4. On Thu, 10 Mar 2011 20:31:11 +0000, Grant Edwards wrote:

    > You tricked me by saying only DEC VAX/VMS programmers would know what it
    > was. In fact, many, many Unix programmers knew about curses (and still
    > do) and very few VMS programmers ever did. C wasn't very widely used
    > under VMS, and VMS had it's own screen formatting and form handling
    > libraries.
    >

    From the context the "only DEC VAX/VMS programmers" remark applied to the
    VT-100. However, the OP is wrong about that - VT-100s were well-known and
    popular devices in the 8-bit microprocessor world too, together with
    assorted clones. In addition, many other terminals had a VT-100 emulation
    mode. IIRC all the Wyse terminals had that.


    --
    martin@ | Martin Gregorie
    gregorie. | Essex, UK
    org |
     
    Martin Gregorie, Mar 10, 2011
    #4
  5. Adam Tauno Williams

    Anssi Saari Guest

    Grant Edwards <> writes:

    > C wasn't very widely used under VMS, and VMS had it's own screen
    > formatting and form handling libraries.


    Just curious, what language was widely used in VMS? My VMS experience
    is limited to running Maple for a math course in the university in
    early 1990s. Didn't know how to do much more than start Maple,
    probably just dir, logout (or was it logoff?) and ftp :)
     
    Anssi Saari, Mar 11, 2011
    #5
  6. Adam Tauno Williams

    Jorgen Grahn Guest

    On Thu, 2011-03-10, Martin Gregorie wrote:
    > On Thu, 10 Mar 2011 20:31:11 +0000, Grant Edwards wrote:
    >
    >> You tricked me by saying only DEC VAX/VMS programmers would know what it
    >> was. In fact, many, many Unix programmers knew about curses (and still
    >> do) and very few VMS programmers ever did. C wasn't very widely used
    >> under VMS, and VMS had it's own screen formatting and form handling
    >> libraries.
    >>

    > From the context the "only DEC VAX/VMS programmers" remark applied to the
    > VT-100. However, the OP is wrong about that - VT-100s were well-known and
    > popular devices in the 8-bit microprocessor world too, together with
    > assorted clones. In addition, many other terminals had a VT-100 emulation
    > mode. IIRC all the Wyse terminals had that.


    But he wrote VT-200, not VT-100. I assumed he meant those (vt200) had
    some exotic graphics mode. The VT-xxx series was pretty heterogenous,
    although most of us think of them as more or less fancy VT-100s.

    /Jorgen

    --
    // Jorgen Grahn <grahn@ Oo o. . .
    \X/ snipabacken.se> O o .
     
    Jorgen Grahn, Mar 11, 2011
    #6
  7. Adam Tauno Williams

    Tim Chase Guest

    On 03/11/2011 04:24 AM, GrayShark wrote:
    > Oh yes, Cobol also worked on VMS (yikes! the columns just
    > right issues!).


    IDENTIFICATION DIVISION.
    PROGRAM-ID. PAIN-PAIN-PAIN.
    PROCEDURE DIVISION.
    DISPLAY 'Thanks for dredging up painful memories'.
    DISPLAY 'I've spent 15 years working to suppress'.
    STOP RUN.

    :)

    -tkc
     
    Tim Chase, Mar 11, 2011
    #7
  8. On 2011-03-11, Anssi Saari <> wrote:
    > Grant Edwards <> writes:
    >
    >> C wasn't very widely used under VMS, and VMS had it's own screen
    >> formatting and form handling libraries.

    >
    > Just curious, what language was widely used in VMS?


    From what I remember, FORTRAN what probably the most popular. Pascal
    was also well supported and somewhat widely used (especially in
    academia). Then there was BLISS-32 for the low-level stuff. C seemed
    to be an afterthought and had a very "kludged" feel to it. VMS's file
    I/O didn't correspond very will with the C byte stream model, and C's
    view of line-termination didn't play well with everything else.

    > My VMS experience is limited to running Maple for a math course in
    > the university in early 1990s. Didn't know how to do much more than
    > start Maple, probably just dir, logout (or was it logoff?) and ftp :)


    --
    Grant Edwards grant.b.edwards Yow! Is it NOUVELLE
    at CUISINE when 3 olives are
    gmail.com struggling with a scallop
    in a plate of SAUCE MORNAY?
     
    Grant Edwards, Mar 11, 2011
    #8
  9. On Fri, 11 Mar 2011 11:17:08 +0200, Anssi Saari <> declaimed
    the following in gmane.comp.python.general:

    > Grant Edwards <> writes:
    >
    > > C wasn't very widely used under VMS, and VMS had it's own screen
    > > formatting and form handling libraries.

    >
    > Just curious, what language was widely used in VMS? My VMS experience
    > is limited to running Maple for a math course in the university in
    > early 1990s. Didn't know how to do much more than start Maple,
    > probably just dir, logout (or was it logoff?) and ftp :)


    The "system" language was BLISS; though I don't know of any
    end-users programming in it.

    My 20 years on VMS was primarily F77, with some Pascal and some C.
    --
    Wulfraed Dennis Lee Bieber AF6VN
    HTTP://wlfraed.home.netcom.com/
     
    Dennis Lee Bieber, Mar 11, 2011
    #9
  10. On 2011-03-11, Dennis Lee Bieber <> wrote:
    > On Fri, 11 Mar 2011 11:17:08 +0200, Anssi Saari <> declaimed
    > the following in gmane.comp.python.general:
    >
    >> Grant Edwards <> writes:
    >>
    >> > C wasn't very widely used under VMS, and VMS had it's own screen
    >> > formatting and form handling libraries.

    >>
    >> Just curious, what language was widely used in VMS? My VMS experience
    >> is limited to running Maple for a math course in the university in
    >> early 1990s. Didn't know how to do much more than start Maple,
    >> probably just dir, logout (or was it logoff?) and ftp :)

    >
    > The "system" language was BLISS; though I don't know of any end-users
    > programming in it.


    I think I did, once, when I need to do something involving 128-bit
    integers. Or maybe I just used assembly language -- BLISS wasn't much
    higher level than assembly. I also seem to remember occasionally
    seeing stuff written in BLISS on DECUS tapes, but it wasn't at all
    common.

    > My 20 years on VMS was primarily F77, with some Pascal and some C.


    --
    Grant Edwards grant.b.edwards Yow! But was he mature
    at enough last night at the
    gmail.com lesbian masquerade?
     
    Grant Edwards, Mar 11, 2011
    #10
  11. On Fri, 11 Mar 2011 11:52:13 +0000, Jorgen Grahn wrote:

    > On Thu, 2011-03-10, Martin Gregorie wrote:
    >> On Thu, 10 Mar 2011 20:31:11 +0000, Grant Edwards wrote:
    >>
    >>> You tricked me by saying only DEC VAX/VMS programmers would know what
    >>> it was. In fact, many, many Unix programmers knew about curses (and
    >>> still do) and very few VMS programmers ever did. C wasn't very widely
    >>> used under VMS, and VMS had it's own screen formatting and form
    >>> handling libraries.
    >>>

    >> From the context the "only DEC VAX/VMS programmers" remark applied to
    >> the VT-100. However, the OP is wrong about that - VT-100s were
    >> well-known and popular devices in the 8-bit microprocessor world too,
    >> together with assorted clones. In addition, many other terminals had a
    >> VT-100 emulation mode. IIRC all the Wyse terminals had that.

    >
    > But he wrote VT-200, not VT-100. I assumed he meant those (vt200) had
    > some exotic graphics mode. The VT-xxx series was pretty heterogenous,
    > although most of us think of them as more or less fancy VT-100s.
    >

    You're right - he did say VT-200. Can't remember using one. However, I
    did buy a used VT-103 at some point and dumped it fairly rapidly as it
    had no manuals and I couldn't get it to work as a terminal (no wonder -
    I've since found out that it was really a standalone box with an LSI-11/23
    crammed into the VT-100 box). It got swapped for a Wyse 120 - an
    excellent terminal with a white phosphor rather than green.

    Grayshark was right too: the ANSI control code standard preceded the
    VT-100 - I live and learn - and because of that there was no commonality
    between VT-50/52 and VT-100 escape codes. Details here:
    http://vt100.net/vt_history

    BTW, there was no such thing as a VT-200 - there was a VT-220 text
    terminal (which I think the OP was remembering) and the VT-240 and 241
    terminals, which were totally different graphics terminals that accepted
    Tektronics graphics commands: comparing a VT-220 to a VT-240/241 would
    be like comparing an Epson dot-matric printer to an HP 7485 plotter!


    --
    martin@ | Martin Gregorie
    gregorie. | Essex, UK
    org |
     
    Martin Gregorie, Mar 11, 2011
    #11
  12. On 2011-03-11, Martin Gregorie <> wrote:

    > BTW, there was no such thing as a VT-200 - there was a VT-220 text
    > terminal (which I think the OP was remembering) and the VT-240 and
    > 241 terminals, which were totally different graphics terminals that
    > accepted Tektronics graphics commands: comparing a VT-220 to a
    > VT-240/241 would be like comparing an Epson dot-matric printer to an
    > HP 7485 plotter!


    The 220 and 240/241 weren't fundamentally different display
    technologies they way a dot-matrix differs from a pen-plotter. Both
    were raster-scan CRT tubes (AFAICT, they used identical CRT tubes and
    driver hardwar). When used in text mode, the 240 wasn't really any
    different than the 220. But, the 240 also supported a graphics mode
    that allowed apps to draw using vector commands). I remember writing
    an app using the ReGIS command set to draw a clock with a moving
    second hand on a 240.

    Comparing a vt220 to a vt240 is like comparing a black-and-white epson
    9-pin dot-matrix printer that can't do graphics with a balck-and-white
    epson 9-pin dot-matrix printer than can do graphics.

    --
    Grant Edwards grant.b.edwards Yow! I've got a COUSIN
    at who works in the GARMENT
    gmail.com DISTRICT ...
     
    Grant Edwards, Mar 11, 2011
    #12
  13. On Fri, 11 Mar 2011 19:32:53 +0000, Grant Edwards wrote:

    > On 2011-03-11, Martin Gregorie <> wrote:
    >
    >> BTW, there was no such thing as a VT-200 - there was a VT-220 text
    >> terminal (which I think the OP was remembering) and the VT-240 and 241
    >> terminals, which were totally different graphics terminals that
    >> accepted Tektronics graphics commands: comparing a VT-220 to a
    >> VT-240/241 would be like comparing an Epson dot-matric printer to an HP
    >> 7485 plotter!

    >
    > The 220 and 240/241 weren't fundamentally different display technologies
    > they way a dot-matrix differs from a pen-plotter. Both were raster-scan
    > CRT tubes (AFAICT, they used identical CRT tubes and driver hardwar).
    > When used in text mode, the 240 wasn't really any different than the
    > 220. But, the 240 also supported a graphics mode that allowed apps to
    > draw using vector commands). I remember writing an app using the ReGIS
    > command set to draw a clock with a moving second hand on a 240.
    >
    > Comparing a vt220 to a vt240 is like comparing a black-and-white epson
    > 9-pin dot-matrix printer that can't do graphics with a balck-and-white
    > epson 9-pin dot-matrix printer than can do graphics.


    Sorry if I wasn't clear: I was intending to compare APIs rather than the
    display mechanisms - I am aware that both text terminals and vector
    graphics terminals are raster devices, not vector like oscilloscopes.
    What I was getting at is that the API used to cause graphics or text to
    be output on a dot-matrix printer is totally unlike that used to draw to
    same representations on a pen plotter.


    --
    martin@ | Martin Gregorie
    gregorie. | Essex, UK
    org |
     
    Martin Gregorie, Mar 12, 2011
    #13
  14. Adam Tauno Williams

    rzed Guest

    Anssi Saari <> wrote in
    news::

    > Grant Edwards <> writes:
    >
    >> C wasn't very widely used under VMS, and VMS had it's own screen
    >> formatting and form handling libraries.

    >
    > Just curious, what language was widely used in VMS? My VMS
    > experience is limited to running Maple for a math course in the
    > university in early 1990s. Didn't know how to do much more than
    > start Maple, probably just dir, logout (or was it logoff?) and
    > ftp :)


    Did you say "was"? The last time I did any programming on a VMS system
    was ... about 5 1/2 hours ago. Our shop runs OpenVMS now, programs
    mostly in C and BASIC. I've quietly insinuated Python into the mix
    over the last few months, and that has helped my sanity considerably.

    I did use the curses library with Vax C years ago, though online data
    entry programs used the SMG library.

    --
    rzed
     
    rzed, Mar 12, 2011
    #14
  15. On Fri, 11 Mar 2011 18:02:47 +0000 (UTC), Martin Gregorie
    <> declaimed the following in
    gmane.comp.python.general:

    > On Fri, 11 Mar 2011 11:52:13 +0000, Jorgen Grahn wrote:
    >
    >
    > Grayshark was right too: the ANSI control code standard preceded the
    > VT-100 - I live and learn - and because of that there was no commonality
    > between VT-50/52 and VT-100 escape codes. Details here:
    > http://vt100.net/vt_history
    >

    Guess I was fooled by 1) I think VT-100's had a option toggle that
    would enable VT-52 emulation, and 2) based on a comment on Wikipedia

    """
    The first standard for ANSI escape sequences was ECMA-48, adopted in
    1976. It was a continuation of a series of character coding standards,
    the first one being ECMA-6 from 1961, a 6-bit standard from which ASCII
    originates. ECMA-48 has been updated several times and the current
    edition is the 5th from 1991. It is also adopted by ISO and IEC as
    standard ISO/IEC 6429. The name ANSI escape sequence dates from the
    years 1981 to 1997, but in 1981 ANSI adopted ECMA-48 as the standard
    ANSI X3.64 (and later, in 1997, withdrew it).[1]
    """

    Note the last sentence starting "The name ANSI..."
    --
    Wulfraed Dennis Lee Bieber AF6VN
    HTTP://wlfraed.home.netcom.com/
     
    Dennis Lee Bieber, Mar 12, 2011
    #15
  16. On Mar 11, 9:17 am, Anssi Saari <> wrote:
    > Grant Edwards <> writes:
    > > C wasn't very widely used under VMS, and VMS had it's own screen
    > > formatting and form handling libraries.

    >
    > Just curious, what language was widely used in VMS? My VMS experience
    > is limited to running Maple for a math course in the university in
    > early 1990s. Didn't know how to do much more than start Maple,
    > probably just dir, logout (or was it logoff?) and ftp :)


    The opposite of widely used, how about C with embedded SQL or CORAL
    66 :)
     
    Blockheads Oi Oi, Mar 12, 2011
    #16
  17. On 2011-03-12, Martin Gregorie <> wrote:

    > Sorry if I wasn't clear: I was intending to compare APIs rather than the
    > display mechanisms - I am aware that both text terminals and vector
    > graphics terminals are raster devices, not vector like oscilloscopes.
    > What I was getting at is that the API used to cause graphics or text to
    > be output on a dot-matrix printer is totally unlike that used to draw to
    > same representations on a pen plotter.


    You're right. The point I was trying to make was that the 240 was a
    superset of the 220, and could be used identically as the 220 was
    used. Back in the years when I used a 240 for 8 hours day the the
    exact same API was used for the 240 as was used for a 220. The only
    exception was the afternoon I decided to write a clock app just to see
    how the graphics mode on a 240 worked. I have no idea why my employer
    bought 240's instead of 220's. It's not like anybody spent a lot of
    time looking at drawings of wombats -- in fact, I was probably the
    only person at the company who knew you could. [Talk about obscure VMS
    allusions...]

    --
    Grant
     
    Grant Edwards, Mar 12, 2011
    #17
  18. On Sat, 12 Mar 2011 17:11:37 +0000, Grant Edwards wrote:

    > The point I was trying to make was that the 240 was a
    > superset of the 220, and could be used identically as the 220 was used.
    >

    Fair enough: I bow to hands-on experience.

    My source - http://vt100.net/vt_history - Says "There is no VT200 as
    such; the VT220 is a text terminal, while the VT240 and VT241 are
    graphics terminals, supporting Digital’s ReGIS graphics and Tektronix
    vector graphics." which I read to mean that a 240/241 wouldn't accept the
    same command set as the 220.


    --
    martin@ | Martin Gregorie
    gregorie. | Essex, UK
    org |
     
    Martin Gregorie, Mar 12, 2011
    #18
  19. On Fri, 11 Mar 2011 23:00:25 -0800, Dennis Lee Bieber wrote:

    > Note the last sentence starting "The name ANSI..."
    >

    Indeed. I'm pretty certain that the first time I met the term "ANSI" was
    in connection with the DOS add-on 'ANSI driver' that allowed programs to
    control the display by emitting escape codes - without it the DOS screen
    was treated as a glass teletype.


    --
    martin@ | Martin Gregorie
    gregorie. | Essex, UK
    org |
     
    Martin Gregorie, Mar 12, 2011
    #19
  20. On 2011-03-12, Martin Gregorie <> wrote:
    > On Sat, 12 Mar 2011 17:11:37 +0000, Grant Edwards wrote:
    >
    >> The point I was trying to make was that the 240 was a
    >> superset of the 220, and could be used identically as the 220 was used.
    >>

    > Fair enough: I bow to hands-on experience.
    >
    > My source - http://vt100.net/vt_history - Says "There is no VT200 as
    > such; the VT220 is a text terminal, while the VT240 and VT241 are
    > graphics terminals, supporting Digital???s ReGIS graphics and Tektronix
    > vector graphics." which I read to mean that a 240/241 wouldn't accept the
    > same command set as the 220.


    Yes, that is what it sounds like from that description, but the 240
    (mono) and 241 (color) could be used as normal ASCII/ANSI text
    terminals (and most of the time they were). After thinking about it
    more, I do remember one graphical app that I used regularly, and that
    was a .dvi file previewer that let you view a document typeset by
    TeX/LaTeX. Due to the size/resolution of the screen, it wasn't usable
    to actually read a document, but you could check to see if some
    particular formatting detail turned out the way you wanted it to.

    --
    Grant Edwards grant.b.edwards Yow! I want to read my new
    at poem about pork brains and
    gmail.com outer space ...
     
    Grant Edwards, Mar 12, 2011
    #20
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