80 column terminals
Posted Sep 1, 2007 0:21 UTC (Sat) by giraffedata
In reply to: Kernel Summit 2008 - an advance view
Parent article: Kernel Summit 2007 - an advance view
It's definitely from Hollerith cards. People didn't use the early terminals to type memos, so even if there were a custom of typing with 1/4" margins (which I'm pretty sure there never was), it would not have influenced terminal design. What they did with terminals was type out (or type in) datasets that otherwise were stored on Hollerith cards: columns of numbers, source code, etc.
Block sizes on tape and disk were also multiples of 80 bytes for a long, long time for the same reason.
For those who haven't heard the story of why a Hollerith card is 80 columns: It's just what happened to fit on a card of that size with machinery of the day. And the size of the card was determined by the size of US currency, because there were storage boxes and such for that size.
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