The history of NEdit from version 5.1.1 on can be found at NEdit.org. Version 5.1.1 was the first release done under GPL. The reason why NEdit.org contains no information for prior versions is that Fermilab (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory) requested so. The last release done under some Fermilab license was 5.0.2. This was also the first version I came across and used regularly.
To the best of my knowledge, NEdit was begun in 1991 as a short project to explore the Motif text widget and provide a simple editor for programmers to use at Fermilab. At that time Fermilab was beginning its migration from VAX/VMS systems to Unix systems, and one of the first stumbling blocks that physicists, and some programmers there, came up against was editing. Most VMS users used EDT or EVE, and the Unix editors were very different from these. The physicists who wanted to accomplish physics didn't like to be battling with complicated editors. So, they asked Mark Edel (a programmer) to see how quickly one could write a GUI-style editor based on the Motif text widget. (At that time Motif was the only graphical toolkit available. Motif became, and was for a long time, an industry standard. Unfortunately, it still isn't released under a free license, so GTK and QT replaced it.)
What started as a two-week experiment ended up as the primary editor the physicists and programmers at Fermilab used to write the C code for their GUI applications intended to display and evaluate experimental data. By the way, the project name, under which these GUI applications were developed, was Nirvana (for whatever reasons). I assume, since it is always hard to find names, the newly written editor was simply called Nirvana Editor, short NEdit, although writing an editor wasn't really part of the project to design physics GUI applications.
Here is the release history of NEdit up to version 5.0.2 as far as I could figure it out. (Version 5.1.1 was released in March 2000.)
Version 5.0.2 - released March 1998
- Word-selection (double click) can be used to select ranges of delimiters.
- New built-in macro variables: $line, $column, and $modified.
- Smart-indent mode available for Python language.
- Minor improvements in default highlight pattern sets for NEdit Macros, X Resources, and Sh/Ksh/Bash.
Version 5.0 - released November 1997
Version 5.0 was a significant upgrade, which added full programmability with a C-like macro language, and syntax highlighting based on regular expressions.
- Completed macro extension language (Simple C/awk-like syntax, safe, fully interruptible)
- Syntax highlighting. Built-in patterns for C, C++, Java, Ada, Fortran, Pascal, Yacc, Perl, Python, Tcl, Csh, Awk, HTML, LaTeX, VHDL, Verilog, and more.
- Programmable Smart indent. (Experimentally, at least. There are only macros for C and C++, and they may not fit everyone's programming style.)
- Language-sensitive preferences
- Continuous wrap mode (long line wrapping), in addition to existing automatic-newline wrapping
- User-defined menus can be hierarchical and language-sensitive.
- Configurable right-button pop up menu
- Searchable on-line help
- Word boundary matching (<>) in regular expressions
- Repeat command
- More dialogs have up-arrow recall
- White-space selection via double-click
- No more limits on editing files containing ASCII null characters
- Fill Paragraph command handles leading indents
- Select to mark
- Better directory defaulting in Open Selected and shell commands
- Open Selected processes tilde (~) and wildcards
- Goto Mark centers scroll position better
- Multiple shell commands can be run simultaneously
- Shell command execution doesn't block server command processing
- Emulated-tab deletion treats auto-indent as emulated tabs
- Auto-wrapping of pasted text is optional (off by default)
- Notice that default preferences have changed and ask about saving on exit
- Selections remain selected after shell command and filter execution
- Wrap margin and emulated tab distance preferences are properly transferred to new panes in split window mode
Version 4.0.2 - released October 1996
- Proportional auto-scroll.
- Open Previous command remembers file names of previously opened files.
- Pasted text is auto-wrapped.
- Alphabetized window menu.
- Reinstated Motif standard Quadruple-click for select-all.
- -svrname option for use with ClearCase.
- Find Definition works with selections outside of requesting window.
- Allow % to be escaped in shell commands.
- Open Selected now ignores whitespace.
Version 4.0.1 - released April 1996
Version 4.0.1 was a bug fix and compatibility release. It also added Linux on PC compatible systems as a fully supported platform.
Version 4.0 - released February 1996
- Rectangular Selection
- Interactive Selection Dragging
- Client/Server mode
- Limited macro capability
- Emulated tabs
- Preserve Last Version (.bck) files option
- Exchange primary/secondary command
- Search dialogs optionally work in stay-up mode
- Settable Read-Only mode
- -read, -create, -do, and -line command line options
- Better control character representation.
- Settable wrap margin
- Ability to bind menu commands in translations
- Better directory defaulting
- No-tabs mode
- Improved overstrike mode
- Option for Motif standard Open dialog
- Optional thick cursor
- Output-replaces-input option for shell commands
- Faster redraw under dialogs and menus
- Faster background-window redraw
- Better horizontal auto-scrolling
- More on-line documentation
Version 3.1 - released October 1994
- Automatic highlighting of matching parenthesis
- Option to center popup dialogs under pointer
- New auto-wrap mode
- MS Windows style dialog mnemonics
- Overstrike mode
- Tear off menus
- Editres compatibility
- Resource settable word delimiters
- Many enhancements and fixes to existing commands
Version 3.0 - released April 1994
- Compatibility with Motif 1.2
- Multi-level undo
- Regular expression matching/substitution available on all platforms
- Shell commands as filters/extensions
- Programmable accelerator keys
- Tab distance is settable
- New commands: Fill Text, Capitalize, Include File, Open Selected, Shift by Tab Stop
- Drag and Drop
Version 2.0 - released November 1993