WAITS: /wayts/ /n./ The mutant cousin of TOPS-10 used
on a handful of systems at SAIL up to 1990. There was never
an `official' expansion of WAITS (the name itself having been
arrived at by a rather sideways process), but it was frequently
glossed as `West-coast Alternative to ITS'. Though WAITS was less
visible than ITS, there was frequent exchange of people and ideas
between the two communities, and innovations pioneered at WAITS
exerted enormous indirect influence. The early screen modes of
EMACS, for example, were directly inspired by WAITS's `E'
editor -- one of a family of editors that were the first to do
`real-time editing', in which the editing commands were invisible
and where one typed text at the point of insertion/overwriting.
The modern style of multi-region windowing is said to have
originated there, and WAITS alumni at XEROX PARC and elsewhere
played major roles in the developments that led to the XEROX Star,
the Macintosh, and the Sun workstations. Also invented there were
bucky bits -- thus, the ALT key on every IBM PC is a WAITS
legacy. One notable WAITS feature seldom duplicated elsewhere was
a news-wire interface that allowed WAITS hackers to read, store,
and filter AP and UPI dispatches from their terminals; the system
also featured a still-unusual level of support for what is now
called `multimedia' computing, allowing analog audio and video
signals to be switched to programming terminals.
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