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The EDLIN line editor was the only text editor provided with MS-DOS before version 5.0 of that system, when it was superseded by the full screen EDIT editor (but still remained available).

EDLIN is probably modelled after the line editors qed or ed but it is seen by some to be less powerful than either of the two.

The edlin line editor was thrown together in two weeks in 1981, and was expected to have a six-month shelf life. Some industry pundits have suggested that this is the only Microsoft-written MS-DOS program that is bug-free; this is entirely false, however, as Seattle Computer Products, not Microsoft, wrote EDLIN.

Gregory Pietsch has written a GPL'd clone of the edlin line editor. The clone is available for download as part of the FreeDOS project, and runs on operating systems such as Linux or Unix as well as MS-DOS.

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