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> What did you use your smarts to create a modal editor while choosing the worst key ever to switch modes!?

I believe when vi was originally created, the Esc key was often placed to the left of Q, where the Tab key is now located on QWERTY layouts.

Correct; vi was born on this layout: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:KB_Terminal_ADM3A.svg (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vi). Notice the arrow keys, and Ctrl and escape. In this case, the history of the program basically explains everything in my opinion.

You could also just press the Alt key on some systems, which sends the control code Esc.

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