5,280 ft in a mile and characters on a screen : Why?

Stumbled to this page describing the historical reason for a mile having 5,280 feet.
Short version:

  • The Romans used a 5000 ft measurement called a “mille pasuum” which was 1000 paces for a solider
  • The English used 660 ft measurement called “furlong” which was how far a horse could pull a plow before resting
  • Easiest on everyone compromise was to make a Mile = 8 Furlongs
  • 8 x 660 = 5,280

This reminded me of something my dad noticed when I was a kid.  The original computer monitor for the TRS-80 computer line (and many other computer systems at the time) had 80 characters in a row and 60 rows: Meaning a single screen held 5,280 lines.

I suppose the next thing to do would be to find out where that 80 char and 60 row decision came from.  I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.


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