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From: Dan Cross <crossd@gmail.com>
To: Aharon Robbins <arnold@skeeve.com>
Cc: The Eunuchs Hysterical Society <tuhs@tuhs.org>
Subject: Re: [TUHS] Demise of TeX and groff (was: roff(7))
Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2022 11:33:35 -0500	[thread overview]
Message-ID: <CAEoi9W4wByhYcAVqz5e+d-ooe5sx4oWDgD2OmkwC0PYbc6DXXg@mail.gmail.com> (raw)
In-Reply-To: <202201120854.20C8sDRR014233@freefriends.org>

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On Wed, Jan 12, 2022 at 3:55 AM <arnold@skeeve.com> wrote:

> [snip]
> Perhaps Doug can set the history straight on troff. Here is my
> understanding,
> corrections (from Doug) welcome:
>
> - Ossanna wrote the original nroff in assembly language
> - He rewrote it in C when the C/A/T was acquired
>   At that time nroff/troff were built from mostly the same sources (as
>   can be seen in the archives).
>

I have some questions about the earlier history.

As I understand it, in the beginning there was RUNOFF, which I believe
originated on CTSS? The CTSS sources contain a RUNOFF program that's made
up of ~1100 lines of MAD and ~1300 lines of assembler. There is certainly a
RUNOFF in Multics, written in BCPL (there's a small "outer module
transfer vector" program in ALM). This is where it gets muddy for me; I
understand this was roughly ported to unix as `roff` by Ken and that at
this point, formatting was fairly primitive: suitable for hardcopy
terminals and line printers, and could do things like center lines and so
forth, but nothing fancy (https://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/~doug/reader.pdf).
Ossanna then took over and greatly expanded the capabilities of `roff`,
adding macros and traps and making it Turing-complete; this was `nroff`,
which grew to become `troff` once the C/A/T typesetter was acquired.

Section 4.1 ("Text Processing") of Doug's "Research Unix Reader" above
includes some tantalizing tidbits, particularly this, regarding `troff`:
"It blew the manufacturer’s
mind, and touched off a flurry of homemade documents in flamboyant
layouts—good enough, however, to fool referees into suspecting that the
manuscripts had been published before." Ooo, that last bit sounds like a
good story! Doug, can you tell us more?

        - Dan C.

PS: Something came up on the Multics mailing list recently that may be of
local interest. Someone was looking for a set of troff macros used
internally by Honeywell for the preparation of technical documentation and
memoranda and it was asked whether this had been done on Multics?
Apparently, `troff` never made it back to its ancestor's home, even though
at some point circa the SVR2 era a C compiler was ported and it would have
been, perhaps, possible. The answer to the original question was that that
documentation had been prepared on a Unix machine of some kind; the macros
seem lost to time.

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  parent reply	other threads:[~2022-01-12 16:34 UTC|newest]

Thread overview: 102+ messages / expand[flat|nested]  mbox.gz  Atom feed  top
2021-12-31 15:47 [TUHS] roff(7) Douglas McIlroy
2021-12-31 23:07 ` George Michaelson
2021-12-31 23:40   ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-01  0:56     ` [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7)) Greg 'groggy' Lehey
2022-01-01  3:15       ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-10 19:00         ` Blake McBride
2022-01-10 20:21           ` Jon Forrest
2022-01-11 22:48             ` Blake McBride
2022-01-11 23:18               ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-12  1:19                 ` Dave Horsfall
2022-01-12  1:46                 ` Blake McBride
2022-01-12  2:12                 ` Bakul Shah
2022-01-12 15:49                   ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-12 16:22                     ` Adam Thornton
2022-01-12  0:06               ` Jon Steinhart
2022-01-12  1:48                 ` Blake McBride
2022-01-12  0:29               ` Nemo Nusquam
2022-01-12  1:53                 ` Blake McBride
     [not found]               ` <E3CC4B8A-4E88-4339-A4D3-4ED26BA80620@gmail.com>
2022-01-12  0:44                 ` Jon Forrest
2022-01-12  2:00                   ` Blake McBride
2022-01-12  2:10                     ` David Arnold
2022-01-12  2:26                       ` Adam Thornton
2022-01-12 19:54                     ` John Cowan
2022-01-13 10:13                       ` Thomas Paulsen
2022-01-13 20:00                         ` John Cowan
2022-01-10 20:33           ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-10 20:37             ` Richard Salz
2022-01-10 21:04               ` Dan Cross
2022-01-10 21:48                 ` Nemo Nusquam
2022-01-11  2:25                 ` Lyndon Nerenberg (VE7TFX/VE6BBM)
2022-01-11  2:47                   ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-22  2:34                   ` [TUHS] troff environments, traps, and diversions (was: TeX and groff) Branden Robinson
2022-01-22 16:02                     ` Douglas McIlroy
2022-01-23 19:45                       ` Jon Steinhart
2022-01-23 22:26                       ` Jon Steinhart
2022-01-11  1:52               ` [TUHS] Recognizing TeX (was: TeX and groff (was: roff(7))) Greg 'groggy' Lehey
2022-01-12  1:19             ` [TUHS] TeX and groff (was: roff(7)) Mary Ann Horton
2022-01-12  2:03               ` Blake McBride
2022-01-12  2:10               ` Bakul Shah
2022-01-12  3:44                 ` Dan Cross
2022-01-12 16:48               ` Steffen Nurpmeso
2022-01-10 20:46           ` Steffen Nurpmeso
2022-01-11  1:59           ` [TUHS] Demise of " Greg 'groggy' Lehey
2022-01-11  2:13             ` Lyndon Nerenberg (VE7TFX/VE6BBM)
2022-01-11  2:42               ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-11  5:12                 ` Greg 'groggy' Lehey
2022-01-11  5:59                   ` John Labovitz
2022-01-11  8:57                   ` arnold
2022-01-11 20:15                     ` Jon Steinhart
2022-01-11 20:22                       ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-11 20:26                         ` Jon Steinhart
2022-01-11 20:36                           ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-11 20:41                             ` Jon Steinhart
2022-01-11 20:49                               ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-11 21:03                                 ` Jon Steinhart
2022-01-11  8:50                 ` arnold
2022-01-11 14:00                   ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-12 23:22                     ` [TUHS] troff or groff? (was: Demise of TeX and groff (was: roff(7))) Greg 'groggy' Lehey
2022-01-12 23:29                       ` Greg 'groggy' Lehey
2022-01-12 23:32                       ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-11 15:47                 ` [TUHS] Demise of TeX and groff (was: roff(7)) Clem Cole
2022-01-11 16:55                   ` Richard Salz
2022-01-11 18:49                     ` Clem Cole
2022-01-11 19:20                   ` John Cowan
2022-01-11 20:06                     ` Clem Cole
2022-01-11 23:57                       ` Warner Losh
2022-01-12  0:03                         ` Warner Losh
2022-01-12  8:54                       ` arnold
2022-01-12 15:17                         ` Clem Cole
2022-01-12 16:33                         ` Dan Cross [this message]
2022-01-12 18:06                           ` [TUHS] *roff history as told to GNU G. Branden Robinson
2022-01-12 18:34                             ` Dan Halbert
2022-01-12 22:48                               ` Clem Cole
2022-01-12 23:27                                 ` Charles H. Sauer
2022-01-13  0:35                                   ` Adam Thornton
2022-01-12 20:01                             ` Dan Cross
2022-01-12 22:32                             ` Clem Cole
2022-01-13  2:38                             ` John Labovitz
2022-01-13  7:42                               ` Lars Brinkhoff
2022-01-13 13:47                                 ` John Labovitz
2022-01-12  8:48                   ` [TUHS] Demise of TeX and groff (was: roff(7)) arnold
2022-01-12 15:51                     ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-12 15:57                       ` Clem Cole
2022-01-12 15:56                     ` Clem Cole
2022-01-11  3:22               ` Adam Thornton
2022-01-12  0:32             ` Nemo Nusquam
2022-01-01 20:00     ` [TUHS] roff(7) [ and other related stuff ] Jon Steinhart
2022-01-02  0:12       ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-02  1:04         ` John Cowan
2022-01-02  1:20           ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-02  1:47             ` Steve Nickolas
2022-01-02  2:12               ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-02  3:56               ` Jon Steinhart
2022-01-02  1:48             ` Jon Steinhart
2022-01-02  3:04             ` John Cowan
2022-01-02  3:30               ` Warner Losh
2022-01-01  1:11   ` [TUHS] roff(7) Phil Budne
2022-01-01  1:17     ` Chris Torek
2022-01-01  3:06       ` Larry McVoy
2022-01-01  3:34       ` George Michaelson
2022-01-05 21:15   ` Tony Finch
2022-01-11 22:02 [TUHS] Demise of TeX and groff (was: roff(7)) Douglas McIlroy

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