WHY DOES BACKSPACE AND DELETE NOT WORK HERE? The question should be: "WHY DO THE BACKSPACE AND DELETE KEYS WORK INCONSISTENTLY ON COMPUTERS?" The reason requires a history lesson, but you probably aren't interested in learning why it has become inconsistent and would rather just fix it and move on. If that is what you want, then type: $ stty erase '^H' - or - $ stty erase '^?' There is no way to know for sure which will work for you, so try them both. Alternatively you could type 'stty erase ' and then your backspace key. (NOTE: don't type the ' symbols and also, mind the whitespace .. but you probably don't even understand that, so just try the two examples above). If one of them works for you, then put the one that did in your .profile A HISTORY LESSON So why do we have [RUBOUT], [DELETE/DEL], [ERASE] and [BACKSPACE/BKSP] keys on (some) computer keyboards? It actually goes back to the input devices used to create punched cards and papertape. These devices were similar to manual typewriters. They would punch holes into a paper media that could then be read by a computer later on. While we all strive to be perfect typists, we all create mistakes ... once you punch holes into paper, its nearly impossible to get the 'chads' you've created back in to repunch. So a correction was made by pressing the [BACKSPACE] key, which would move the carriage back one character space and you would then press the [DELETE] key to punch all the bits out of that space. ASCII HEX OCTAL DEC CHAR ---------------------------------------- ASCII BS 0x08 0010 8 ^H ASCII DEL 0x7F 0177 127 ^? When input devices were developed that allowed users to program directly into a computer and store programs as files on disks (or have the computer punch the tape or card stack for you once you had properly typed in and ran your program), the behaviour of the aforementioned keys became inconsistent. Most people probably expect [BACKSPACE/BKSP] to move the cursor to the left erasing characters as you press it, and the [DELETE/DEL] key not moving the cursor, but 'eating' characters and whitespace from the right. A USER'S PERSPECTIVE On my Symbolics LISPM keyboard I have a [RUBOUT], [DELETE] and [ERASE] key .. but on my Apple Powerbook I just have a [DELETE] key. The [RUBOUT] key is located where your [CAPS LOCK] key is, so in order to rubout characters, you use the pinky on your left hand. On the Powerbook I have to use my right hand to press the [DELETE] key which is located all the way up (and out of the home row position) in the top right hand corner of the keyboard. The LISPM keyboard might sound weird, but you get used to it really quick if you are a traditional 'home row' touch typist.