Back in the day when I was a Unix admin, we often worked in full screen terminals and when editing a config file didn't like having to close the vim instance to go look at something, so learned about this little gem:
:sh (go back to shell and do your thing and leave vim running)
Ctrl-d to return to intact and running vim instance.
As an aside, if you decide to use nano to edit config files, make sure you use nano -w (no wrap), otherwise you may find yourself with a non-bootable OS instance.
I haven't used many esoteric environments, but wikipedia says it "exists in most modern Unix shells" and the timeline for first adding it was the late 70s early 80s.
In nvi (at least), one can also open a buffer and :script to run a shell inside vi and have all the yank/paste/navigation/all-the-things features of vi. Mind you need to i[nsert] or a[ppend] after the prompt to issue your commands.
:! ls -a