The Story of the Windows Backslash

By Deane Barker on February 26, 2009

Why is the DOS path character “"?: This is a great story about how Windows got stuck with the backslash. I guess I always thought they picked it just to be different.

[…] there was a problem. They couldn’t use the *nix form of path separator of “/”, because the “/” was being used for the switch character.

So what were they to do? They could have used the “.” character like the DEC machines, but the “.” character was being used to differentiate between file and extension. So they chose the next best thing – the “" character, which was visually similar to the “/” character.

And that’s how the “" character was chosen.



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