How to implement a horizontal cat?

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http://unix.stackexchange.com – Standard cat concatenates files line by line (row by row, if you will). I find myself needing a horizontal cat command more and more often recently; i.e. a command that takes a list of files and concatenates them horizontally, column by column. So far I’ve used ad-hoc workarounds but I’d like to know if there exists a good solution for this. To clarify, consider the following comparison between cat and hcat of two files: $ cat a.dat 1.dat a b c d 1 2 3 4 $ hcat -s ' ' a.dat 1.dat a b 1 2 c d 3 4 (Unlike for cat we need to specify a separator since by convention UNIX files don’t have (HowTos)