The curses library is a terminal control library for Unix-like systems used in text based user interface applications. It has been used in many games in the past. It was developed by Ken Arnold and originally released with BSD Unix.

Where can I find the sources of the curses library (either as part of a Unix distribution release or the original sources as published by the author or some other official source)? Sources with history (in a version control system) would be even better.

I can only find sources for successors like ncurses or pcurses. Neither the Wikipedia page of curses, nor the overview page at rocketaware.com resulted in something usable and searches for "freebsd libcurses" or "debian libcurses" all point to ncurses, not the original curses. The library is probably not in use anymore, but I would still like to study the original source code.

  • Hope the question is on-topic. Feb 1, 2021 at 10:30
  • 3
    It is, although it might have as well great chances to find an answer on Unix.SE - due being in their turf in the first place.
    – Raffzahn
    Feb 1, 2021 at 17:38
  • 5
    @Raffzahn and it would likely have received the same answer from the same user ;-) Feb 1, 2021 at 19:44
  • 2
    @StephenKitt Don't doubt that at all :)
    – Raffzahn
    Feb 1, 2021 at 20:13

1 Answer 1


The sources of early versions of curses are available in Diomidis Spinellis’ Unix history repo, for example the 4.4BSD version of libcurses. This includes reconstructed history, all the way back to this synthetic 4BSD-era commit.

The sources are available in a number of other places such as TUHS (which has a 2.9BSD version as well, along with the AT&T versions) but the above is the most convenient I know of for exploration, especially to see the evolution of the codebase.

  • 3
    Many thanks. This is more than I expected and can be used to retrieve historical information about many other libraries. Feb 1, 2021 at 12:51

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