Why vim uses hjkl as arrow keys. ⬅️⬇️⬆️➡️

November 24, 2019 - 1 minute read -
dev vim

TIL, many of vim’s key bindings, such as the use of hjkl for arrow keys, originate from the Lear Siegler ADM-3A terminal, which Bill Joy used to create the vi editor. Looking at the ADM-3A’s keyboard layout, we can notice other distinctive features:

  • The placement of Esc and Ctrl are much more convenient
  • The colon key :, used in Command mode, can be used without holding Shift
  • Home and ~ share the same key, which is why ~ represents the home directory in Unix-like operating systems

ADM-3A keyboard layout

ADM-3A keyboard layout (source)