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I wrote my own version of Make for VAX/VMS and MSDOS, back in 1983 or so. I hated the tab mechanism of the Unix make, so I didn't use it, and none of my users (of which there were apparently thousands) ever complained. I got a few "thank you"s for it.

TAB was a stupid choice even in the 1970s.

Tab are actually more eco-friendly than space.

Just think of the energy lost sending 4 characters instead of 1 in every uncompressed json/xml actually moving around because lazy people don't mind suppress them before sending it over the network...

and imagine how annoying it gets when you are punching a punchcard.

We would punch up a program card to put on the drum in our IBM 029 card punches to set the tab stops, and let the tab key do its job.

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