<character> /awlt/ 1. The alt modifier key on many keyboards, including
the IBM PC. On some keyboards and operating systems, (but not the IBM PC) the
alt key sets bit 7 of the character generated.
See bucky bits.
2. The "clover" or "Command" key on a Macintosh; use of this term usually
reveals that the speaker hacked PCs before coming to the Mac (see also feature
key). Some Mac hackers, confusingly, reserve "alt" for the Option key (and it is
so labelled on some Mac II keyboards).
3. (Obsolete PDP-10; often "ALT") An alternate name for the ASCII ESC character
(Escape, ASCII 27), after the keycap labelling on some older terminals; also
"altmode" (/awlt'mohd/). This character was almost never pronounced "escape" on
an ITS system, in TECO or under TOPS-10, always alt, as in "Type alt alt to end
a TECO command" or "alt-U onto the system" (for "log onto the [ITS] system").
This usage probably arose because alt is easier to say.
4. <messaging> One of the Usenet newsgroup hierarchies. It was founded by
John Gilmore and Brian Reid. The alt hierarchy is special in that anyone can
create new groups here without going though the normal voting proceduers, hence
the regular appearence of new groups with names such as
Alphard « alpha testing « ALPS « alt » ALTAC
» Altair 8800 » Alta Vista