The first version of
vi was written in 1976 by Bill Joy, a University of California, Berkeley student who later went on to co-found Sun Microsystems.
vi derives its name from the word visual, because it was intended to allow editing on a video terminal with a moving cursor. Before visual editors there were line editors, which operated on a single line of text at a time. To specify a change, we tell a line editor to go to a particular line and describe what change to make, such as adding or deleting text. With the advent of video terminals (rather than printer-based terminals like teletypes), visual editing became possible.
vi actually incorporates a powerful line editor called
ex, and we can use line-editing commands while ...