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These work fine when typing in the shell itself (no child processes, just the prompt) - I can edit the input line before submitting it as command input to the shell. But when I am running a program, say Standard ML interpreter (SML New Jersey) in the same terminal, I cannot move the caret back on my line to edit out stuff, instead it adds the sequence ^[[D to the end of output. Is it because the program simply does not interpret my arrow keys the way I want it to? Perhaps it doesn't even support such editing mode?

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I think this question explains it:… –  Alan Shutko Oct 23 '12 at 16:14
Wikipedia and this Kermit page discuss the history of ANSI establishing “escape sequences” for non-ASCII keys (including “ESC [ D” for left arrow) and cursor functions, and the DEC VT100 being an early adopter of the standard. –  Scott Oct 23 '12 at 20:41

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