Printing the last column of a line in a file

You don’t see anything, because of buffering. The output is shown, when there are enough lines or end of file is reached. tail -f means wait for more input, but there are no more lines in file and so the pipe to grep is never closed.

If you omit -f from tail the output is shown immediately:

tail file | grep A1 | awk '{print $NF}'

@EdMorton is right of course. Awk can search for A1 as well, which shortens the command line to

tail file | awk '/A1/ {print $NF}'

or without tail, showing the last column of all lines containing A1

awk '/A1/ {print $NF}' file

Thanks to @MitchellTracy’s comment, tail might miss the record containing A1 and thus you get no output at all. This may be solved by switching tail and awk, searching first through the file and only then show the last line:

awk '/A1/ {print $NF}' file | tail -n1

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