Peter Coghlan cctalk at beyondthepale.ie
Thu Sep 6 16:55:09 CDT 2018

Zane Healy wrote:

> Why is the VT100 so popular?

It beats me!

Compared to many of the others available at the time, it seemed to me to be:

1.  expensive
2.  standardised
3.  well designed (the protocol, not the physical implementation)
4.  complex
5.  slow
6.  failure prone (keyboard connector/keys, vertical linearity, power switch)
7.  fragile (in a student environment anyway)
8.  difficult to emulate properly (particularly if whoever was writing the
    emulator didn't read the manual or the standard which it appears to me
    was most of them)
9.  hard on the ears (that keyboard beep really got on my nerves)
10. ugly

I can't see how any of the above would make it popular except maybe number 2
and 3 but I can't imagine that the average VT100 buyer researched the protocol
in detail before purchase.

If you bought a bought a machine from DEC, you probably needed DEC terminals
or clones of them to get the best from it.  However, the same probably applied
to other manufacturers.

I think a huge proportion of other equipment developers who specified a VT100
to connect to their equipment needed it to do little more than cope with a
very basic ASCII character set plus carriage return and line feed.  It may
have helped that there was an associated ANSI standard but like the terminal
emulator writers, I can't believe than many of them looked at it.

Peter Coghlan.

More information about the cctech mailing list