I’ve been using Vim and Emacs side by side for the last week or two, one with code in it and the other with org-mode.  It made me realize that one of the main reason the interfaces are so different, vim with mode switching, emacs with so many modifier keys are because of the keyboards they came from.

<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">ADM3A Terminal Keyboard</figcaption></figure>

If you think about Vi being used on a ADM3A terminal keyboard you’ll see the Esc key to switch modes is much more prominent than on a modern keyboard and HJKL have arrows on them for movement.

<figcaption class="wp-caption-text">Symbolics “Space Cadet” Keyboard</figcaption></figure>

In the case of Emacs if you look at a Symbolics Lisp machine “Space Cadet” keyboard you see there are so  many modifier keys that can be utilized.

The interfaces in each editor is not necessarily the result of some ideology about how editing should be handled, but are a product of the computing environment which they were invented in.