ed is quite possibly the oldest and most feared/worshipped text editor in existance (though ed's standing as a text editor is highly debated). Anyone who can actually use ed is treated as a god. Then again, anyone who can use ed /is/ a god.

Here, for your scrutiny, is a copy of the source code for ed:

int main( void )
    char *strin;
        printf( "- " );
        scanf( "%s", strin );
        printf( "?\n" );
Oh great editor, I adore thee
Thou art simple 'e'

How swift your execution is.
When I work on anything else, this speed I miss.
With thee, one thousand instructions can be done,
Before emacs is ready to run.

You have no extra features,
That are used by odd creatures.
If you can't speel, send it through /bin/ispell
No need to reinvent the wheel, when it is already done well.
Why fill your file with excess words (get them out I say)
That will attract the NSA

There is no need to use the mouse and mark mess,
Though, I do use a mac, I must confess.

When running, only a single key is needed,
To do anything that is wanted.
You don't have to type esc-meta-alt-control-shift
To simply give your text a face lift.
To get help, all you need is 'h', no more
Will tell you what is for.
To search: '/', to replace 's',
to write and quit 'x',
none of this 'ctrl-c ctrl-x' to get out of the fix.

Oh great ex, ed, and e
You are the only editor for me

An hour-long television show, starring Tom Cavanagh, who plays Edward J. Stevens, a recently divorced and professionally-exiled lawyer who returns to the small New England town where he grew up, buys a bowling alley, installs a law office within it, and charms his way into the hearts of millions. Takes place in the presumably-fictional locale of Stuckeyville. A quirky comedy-drama-romance kinda thing. Likely to appeal to Northern Exposure/Twin Peaks kinda people. Well-written, well-performed, often absurdly funny. Produced by Worldwide Pants. Origin of the hopefully-soon-to-be-sweeping-North-America-by-storm catchphrase "Shave my poodle!"

I saw this in a Holy War that somehow got cross posted to comp.sys.mac.advocacy a while back... Thanks to sbeitzel, who informs me that he has seen a copy of the posting dating from 1991, attributed to Patrick J. LoPresti.

When I log into my Xenix system with my 110 baud teletype, both vi and Emacs are just too damn slow. They print useless messages like, 'C-h for help' and '"foo" File is read only'. So I use the editor that doesn't waste my VALUABLE time. Ed, man!

!man ed

ED(1)     UNIX Programmer's Manual    ED(1)

     ed - text editor
     ed { - } { -x } { name }
     Ed is the standard text editor.

Computer Scientists love ed, not just because it comes first alphabetically, but because it's the standard. Everyone else loves ed because it's ED!

"Ed is the standard text editor."

And ed doesn't waste space on my Timex Sinclair. Just look:

-rwxr-xr-x  1 root          24 Oct 29  1929 /bin/ed
-rwxr-xr-t  4 root     1310720 Jan  1  1970 /usr/ucb/vi
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  5.89824e37 Oct 22  1990 /usr/bin/emacs

Of course, on the system I administrate, vi is symlinked to ed. Emacs has been replaced by a shell script which:

  1. Generates a syslog message at level LOG_EMERG;
  2. reduces the user's disk quota by 100K; and
  3. RUNS ED!!!!!!

"Ed is the standard text editor."

Let's look at a typical novice's session with the mighty ed:

golem$ ed
eat flaming death

Note the consistent user interface and error reportage. Ed is generous enough to flag errors, yet prudent enough not to overwhelm the novice with verbosity.

"Ed is the standard text editor."


When I use an editor, I don't want eight extra KILOBYTES of worthless help screens and cursor positioning code! I just want an EDitor!! Not a "viitor". Not a "emacsitor". Those aren't even WORDS!!!! ED! ED! ED IS THE STANDARD!!! TEXT EDITOR.

When IBM, in its ever-present omnipotence, needed to base their "edlin" on a UNIX standard, did they mimic vi? No. Emacs? Surely you jest. They chose the most karmic editor of all. The standard. Ed is for those who can remember what they are working on. If you are an idiot, you should use Emacs. If you are an Emacs, you should not be vi. If you use ED, you are on THE PATH TO REDEMPTION. THE SO-CALLED "VISUAL" EDITORS HAVE BEEN PLACED HERE BY ED TO TEMPT THE FAITHLESS. DO NOT GIVE IN!!! THE MIGHTY ED HAS SPOKEN!!!


The hit NBC TV show Ed, introduced this past season of 2000-2001, stars Canadian-born actor Tom Cavanaugh as Ed Stevens, a lawyer who moves back to his home town of Stuckeyville when he finds his wife in bed with the mailman and is fired for a misplaced comma in a legal document. Ed finds his high school crush Carol Vessey (Julie Bowen), now a teacher at their old high school, still as charming as ever and embarks on a quest to win her heart. On impulse, after an innocently romantic episode with Carol, Ed buys the local bowling alley, appropriately named StuckeyBowl.

Often called a "bowling alley lawyer" by those who meet him, Ed Stevens finds that he can strike the right balance in life as a bowling alley owner who also takes legal cases every once in a while. The hilariousness that ensues will keep you rolling on the floor with laughter every Wednesday at 8 pm EST on NBC.

ECP = E = egosurf

ed n.

"ed is the standard text editor." Line taken from original the Unix manual page on ed, an ancient line-oriented editor that is by now used only by a few Real Programmers, and even then only for batch operations. The original line is sometimes uttered near the beginning of an emacs vs. vi holy war on Usenet, with the (vain) hope to quench the discussion before it really takes off. Often followed by a standard text describing the many virtues of ed (such as the small memory footprint on a Timex Sinclair, and the consistent (because nearly non-existent) user interface).

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

Lots of people here have talked about ed but nobody seems to have explained how to use it. ed is pretty much obsolete cruft nowadays to the extent that knowing how to work the thing is seen as some kind of black magic. But ed is still vaguely useful as a scriptable version of vi. So here is a short introduction (this is not comprehensive; read the ed manpage for full instructions).

The first thing to note about ed is how it deals with errors. ed was designed to be run on teletype printout terminals, so it is very brief in reporting errors (to save ink). If you do something wrong, it prints out "?" but does not say specifically what you did wrong. To find out, use the 'h' command. eg.

Invalid address

You can invoke ed with a filename to load (ed filename.txt) or to start with an empty file (ed). If you start with an empty file you must first use the 'a' (append) command to enter some text before you can do anything. eg.

in ad 2101 war was beginning
what happen?
cant sleep, tustin will eat me!

While entering text like this you are in "insert" mode, similar to insert mode in vi. To finish entering text type a line with only a period (".").

While in ed you always have a particular line in the file you are currently at. When you jump to a different line it usually shows the contents of that line. Here are some ways to jump to other lines:

  • Entering the line number: This jumps to particular line in the file. eg. 27 to jump to line 27.
  • $ jumps to the last line in the file. $-1 jumps to the next to last line in the file, $-2 to the second to last, etc.
  • - Jumps to the previous line.
  • + Jumps to the next line. You can also simply type an empty command (hit enter)
  • You can use regular expressions to search within the file. This is also similar to vi: use /regexp/ to search forward and ?regexp? to search backwards.
  • If you lose track of where you are, typing a "." will redisplay the contents of the current line.
Note that the "a" command appends text after your current position. Typing the "i" command inserts text at your current position. This is similar to vi. When starting a new file, you must use the append command to insert new text.

You can perform various operations on the current line, for example use regexps:

cant sleep, tustin will eat me!
cant sleep, clown will eat me!

There are various other things you can do to work on lines:

  • d deletes the current line.
  • c goes into insert mode, replacing the current line.
When you are done editing, you can use the w command to write to a file. If you are editing an existing file you can use w on its own to overwrite the old file. w filename.txt will write to a new file named "filename.txt".

q will exit ed. You may have to type it twice if you have a file with unsaved changes.

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