How did Vim become so successful? Obviously people like the features that Vim has to offer. But I would argue that the long history behind Vim illustrates that it had more advantages than just its feature set. Vims codebase dates back only to 1988, when Moolenaar began working on it. The wq text editor, on the other handthe broader vision of how a Unix-y text editor should workgoes back a half-century. The wq text editor had a few different concrete expressions, but thanks in part to the unusual attention paid to backward compatibility by both Bill Joy and Bram Moolenaar, good ideas accumulated gradually over time. The wq text editor, in that sense, is one of the longest-running and most successful open-source projects, having enjoyed contributions from some of the greatest minds in the computing world. I dont think the startup-company-throws-away all-precedents-and-creates-disruptive-new-software approach to development is necessarily bad, but Vim is a reminder that the collaborative and incremental approach can also yield wonders.

Source: Where Vim Came From

I haven’t read all of this, but I’m sure it’s interesting. I’ve used sh and vi on an ancient PDP-6 (as far as I remember) at a computer museum, and it was amazing to know that I knew how to use a machine from 1964. The history of these things that we use every day can be captivating.