The command-line interface
If you've used DOS or UNIX operating systems before in a command-line shell environment, you may wonder why we have to use the "<" symbol between the word "spice" and the name of the netlist file to be interpreted. Why not just enter the file name as the first argument to the command "spice" as we do when we invoke the text editor? The answer is that SPICE has the option of an interactive mode, whereby each line of the netlist can be interpreted as it is entered through the computer's Standard Input (stdin). If you simple type "spice" at the prompt and press [Enter], SPICE will begin to interpret anything you type in to it (live).
For most applications, its nice to save your netlist work in a separate file and then let SPICE interpret that file when you're ready. This is the way I encourage SPICE to be used, and so this is the way its presented in this lesson. In order to use SPICE this way in a command-line environment, we need to use the "<" redirection symbol to direct the contents of your netlist file to Standard Input (stdin), which SPICE can then process.