Command line prompts

Terminal Mac Command Line Prompt Shell by Marcio Valenzuela
Terminal Mac Command Line Prompt Shell

locate sqlite
sudo nano /etc/apache2/httpd.conf

Computers are amazing! We all love telling them what to do. It’s like having you’re own personal assistant. And while adding calendar appointments, editing presentations and browsing web pages is very sophisticated nowadays, command prompt shells are so much more appealing, to me anyway.

I remember the first time I used a command prompt was in my uncle’s Apple IIe back in San Francisco. Who didn’t love making printout loops using * to draw shapes and spell words…or since we are geeks, draw a big heart on the screen.

I also remember computer class back at school at EIS. The 10 line programs telling the computer to do this, do that and then goto such line. That’s about as far as we got in computer class.

But that was all in the 80’s of course. I remember WordPerfect was one of the first programs used that was not GUI based and it was like a shell editor.

You’d think by the 90’s when MS Windows took off with its nice GUI interface, shell commands would be a thing of the past but I’m pretty sure I remember connections to AOL we’re done from the command prompt.

One of my most exciting memories of command prompts was back in the 90’s when I downloaded Red Hat Linux from a command prompt. I had my windows based PC open, because no self respecting nerd would dare have his computer closed up, 36k modem hooked up to the phone line, air conditioner on max and I spent the whole night downloading the OS. Even the loading indicator was a series of slowly appearing dots or asterisks onscreen. And then I spent about 3 more nights after that configuring the OS and learning to scour the internet for open ports and what have you.

For sure by now, the 2010’s, command line computing would be obsolete, were it not for all the geek movies where hackers still use it. Or if you’re a programmer in which case you use it pretty much everyday. Just the other day I relived the rush you feel when you ssh into a remote server, install apache, php and SQLite and configure a server. A few months back I remember running some python scripts and ruby ones to create databases and sign/zip packages. Glass, a very advanced piece of hardware, some might say :-), still requires a command line prompt for programmer setup and interaction.

It’s obvious command line prompts are here to stay. There’s something so appealing about talking to a computer through the prompt instead of that bulky, plastic mouse that goes all over the screen clicking and double clicking. GUIs are often slow to react and they just get boring after a while.

Why do you suppose they are so appealing? Is it that you can do things with a command line prompt that you can’t do with a GUI? Is it because Hollywood has painted them to be this epitome of hacking? Is it because it was the first (for many of us) way we interacted with a computer? Or is it just because we are geeks?



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