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Emacs is a family of text editors.

Extensible multi-platform programmers editor, uses a LISP subset as a macro and extension language. Very popular with certain types of *nix persons in particular and for a time in the 90's was the most commonly available text editor out there as far as porting to different operating systems was concerned, but interest in it has faded greatly in the last few years as editors and IDE's that take advantage of GUI's have become more powerful, the Emacs code has grown exponentially in size and the current developers of Emacs act more and more dogmatic and entrenched. This has come to a point where there is no longer a current version for OS/2 and unlikely that anyone is interested in updating it.


Please note capitalisation of name, EMACS is a class of editors with similar basic functions and UI, and alongside vi part of the "Catholic" branch of text editors also referred to as "West Coast Editors" or "West Coast Orthodox". Emacs on the other hand is a specific version originally developed by James Gosling in the early 80's that was a clone of Multics Emacs and released as a Public Domain software, that was later hijacked by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and released under their own license. Specific features like the use of a LISP subset and the control regime are Emacs features that are taken directly from Multics Emacs and only show up Emacs, its forks and other ME clones, but are by no means a feature of EMACS editors in general. The reason for using LISP as a macro language in Multics Emacs is really simple, it is the language it was written in.


  • Multics Emacs
  • Gosling Emacs
  • GNU Emacs
  • Epoch - derived from GNU Emacs 18
  • XEmacs


  • Craig A. Finseth: The Craft of Text Editing: Emacs for the Modern World - Springer 1991, ISBN 0-387-97616-7