[TUHS] The UNIX Command Language (1976)

Clem Cole clemc at ccc.com
Tue Dec 1 02:54:37 AEST 2020

On Mon, Nov 30, 2020 at 11:37 AM Larry McVoy <lm at mcvoy.com> wrote:

> So Clem, the fact that troff lost and LaTex won is a direct result of
> that walled garden that was the early days of Unix.


> Unless you had a Unix license, no troff for you!

yes ... but ... even UNIX binary folks had troff licenses and many/most at
ditroff licenses.  I know Masscomp just ate $5 per CPU and included it
because we did not want to mess with the older version.  If you were an
academic, it was free so most research academics had either the source or
at least a binary on their workstations.

This did not become an issue until the 386, but by that time Clark had
written what would be groff.

I think your observation is correct, but in practice, I don't think that
was what it was.

I think the academics went LaTex and that had more to do with it.   LaTex
was closer to Scribe for the PDP-10s and Vaxen, which had a short head lead
on all them until it went walled garden when CMU sold the rights (and even
its author - Brian Ried) could not use it at a Stanford.

So your are right, Wall Garden certainly impacted the result, but I think
it was more preference in this case.

> Which is a huge bummer, I'm a huge
> troff fan (especially pic, but all of the preprocessors let you see the
> output in your head).

Ditto to both.

> I wish we lived in a troff world but we don't

> and that is a direct result of haves (license holders) and have nots
> (the other 99.999999% of the world).
Maybe -- I think the PC and Word was the real kiss of death, which I find
even more troubling.

> It's not the result we would like but it is what it is.
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