As-you-type chat?
September 2, 2007 7:27 AM   Subscribe

Is there such thing as totally real time online chat?

i.e. Where your text appears as you are typing it, letter by letter (rather than typing a line and pressing 'send').
posted by pablocake to Computers & Internet (16 answers total)
The old-school unix "talk" command works this way. Not very popular any more, though.
posted by buxtonbluecat at 7:41 AM on September 2, 2007

I'm pretty sure the IM client 'ICQ' used to do this. Not sure about current versions though.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:53 AM on September 2, 2007

Previously: What happened to character-by-character chat?
posted by smackfu at 7:54 AM on September 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

I did that quite a bit back in the olden days. But it's annoying. People can see that you typed "You are a twat" then backspaced and re-typed "I don't agree."
posted by The Deej at 8:04 AM on September 2, 2007 [5 favorites]

but The Deej, that just provides humorous forms such as...

"you are a twat^H^H^H^Hcool guy" *

you can also have two users attach to the same session of screen which can be entertaining in addition to just plain damned useful.

*nb literal typed ^H, not actual ctrl-H
posted by dorian at 8:39 AM on September 2, 2007

also, it fosters mad typing skills -- the majority of the people I work with these days can't spell or type worth a damn whereas many people from the sort of university program I attended have ridiculous prowess in both speed and accuracy. I never fail to get a kick out of seeing co-workers' amazement as I blaze along a command line or email or such, often looking at their faces and talking, not even glancing at the screen.
posted by dorian at 8:43 AM on September 2, 2007

Not sure about the current version but MIRC used to do that.
posted by JayRwv at 8:55 AM on September 2, 2007

but The Deej, that just provides humorous forms such as...

"you are a twat^H^H^H^Hcool guy"


Actually I remember using something with a friend that showed the what you typed, and did backspaces correctly. I think on my friends end it was a DOS program, and on my end (Mac) it might have been Z-Term, but I'm not sure.

It was just 2-way communication, though, and I'm not sure if it allowed any more than that.
posted by The Deej at 9:12 AM on September 2, 2007

Ytalk (a variant of the unix talk command) and the VMS PHONE command both allowed more than two participants (and showed updates keypress-by-keypress).

Apple's iChat has an option to send as you type, so you can see people backspacing over their typos and so on, but it only sends updates once a second or so rather than immediately.
posted by hattifattener at 9:36 AM on September 2, 2007

"MIRC"? IRC-the-protocol never had that; it's completely line based.
posted by cmiller at 11:28 AM on September 2, 2007

ICQ doesn't do that either.
posted by divabat at 1:35 PM on September 2, 2007

The part of ICQ that used to do it was the group chat sessions. It showed a separate window for every participant. Kind of hard to watch everyone, sometimes. You could probably run one with just two people, though, if it's still supported.
posted by agentofselection at 3:33 PM on September 2, 2007

Talk and ytalk are pretty myc^H^Huch where using ^H to mean backspace in the middle of a sentence came from. It was ugly enough that I, at least, would change the wordni^H^Hing of whatever I wasy^H saying if I hit a wrong but recoverable key ^H. I'm leaving in all the mistakes I make in this post to contrast how lazy and sloppy I am now with how I was doing when my every kest^H^Hystroke was watched, and I'm e^Hreally rather ashamed.
posted by darksasami at 3:45 PM on September 2, 2007


Pressing the backspace key on a computer terminal would generate the ASCII code 08, BS or Backspace, which would delete the preceding character. That control code could also be accessed by pressing Control-H, as H is the eighth letter of the Latin alphabet. Terminals which do not have the backspace code mapped to the function of moving the cursor backwards and deleting the preceding character would display the symbols ^H (caret, H — see Caret notation) when the backspace key was pressed. This sequence is still used humorously by computer savvy users to denote the deletion of a pretended blunder, much like overstriking.

Example: My slave-dri^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hboss decided to stall the project.

A more concise alternative sometimes seen is ^W, which is the shortcut to delete the previous word in the Berkeley Unix terminal line discipline. One ^W can replace a whole string of ^H's. This shortcut has also made it into Emacs and Vi text editors. For really embarrassing blunders, ^U (kill line) can outdo a series of ^W.

posted by danb at 5:13 PM on September 2, 2007

oh hell yes. the dec vt220 and vt320 terminals in our labs at the time always always always had nearly all non-alphabet keys configured hell of wrong. backspace and delete first and foremost among these. stty was your friend.
posted by dorian at 6:36 PM on September 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

My buddy and I, when we first got our computers back in the mid 90's, used Hyperterminal in Windows to connect to each via modem and chat. It was character by character. I used to mess with him by pretyping sentences in notepad and pasting them into the session.
posted by exhilaration at 11:31 PM on September 2, 2007

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