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My guess would be that the AIX c libraries and terminals don't support the use of those escape sequences to position the cursor. They may not support any such escape sequences. You may want to look at ncurses.
There are several separate issues here:
1. Q: Why doesn't the AIX C compiler recognize "\e"?
A: Because it doesn't - and it doesn't have to. "\e" is an extension.
2. Q: Even if the AIX C compiler recognized the "esc", would the
AIX runtime correctly format my columns?
A: Not necessarily. It would *only* work if your terminal driver
happened to recognize and handle ANSI escape sequences.
In answer to Q1: All you have to do is specify the escape in binary (ascii(27)), instead of using "\e":
"e[3;5H" == "\0x1b[3;5H"
In answer to Q2, the best way to assure consistent formatting (without having to worry about whether or not your user's display supports ANSI escape sequences) is to use the built-in formatting provided by "printf", as Wim suggested.
You can also, as Matir point out, use "curses", which is a layer *abve* ANSI escapes (and, in fact, ANSI escapes are one of many terminal control protocols supported by curses).