Unix legend Brian Kernighan still maintaining awk code #Unix

A Princeton professor, finding a little time for himself in the summer academic lull, emailed an old friend a couple months ago. Brian Kernighan said hello, asked how their US visit was going, and dropped off hundreds of lines of code that could add Unicode support for AWK, the text-parsing tool he helped create for Unix at Bell Labs in 1977.

“It’s always been an embarrassment that AWK only worked with ASCII, or maybe 8-bit inputs, but it doesn’t really handle Unicode at all,” Kernighan tells interviewer professor David Brailsford. “A few months ago, I spent some time working with (laughs) an incredibly old program. I have it at this point where it will actually handle UTF-8 input and output so that you can have regular expressions that, you know, pick up Japanese characters, things like that.”

Kernighan, now 80, offhandedly mentions in the interview that he has also patched something “quick and dirty” to let AWK handle CSV files.

Read more in Ars Technica and see the video below.


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