joe mcguckin joe at via.net
Thu Aug 11 04:24:09 AEST 2022

I used to work for a computer manufacturer that was nearly dead - lots of cubicles piled full of junk. The reference manuals had these very nice diagrams of the 
computer boards detailing the connectors on the board edges. Imagine my surprise when I discovered all the artwork was PIC generated…


Joe McGuckin
ViaNet Communications

joe at via.net
650-207-0372 cell
650-213-1302 office
650-969-2124 fax

> On Aug 10, 2022, at 10:37 AM, arnold at skeeve.com wrote:
> Oh, I'm not arguing with any of this. I'm merely noting that
> you are unusual in your ability to easily visualize pic results
> from looking at the code.
> Arnold
> Larry McVoy <lm at mcvoy.com> wrote:
>> Well, I stand behind my comments.  Take a look at what xfig(1) 
>> produces and contrast that with even an average pic(1) source
>> file.  You can't see what xfig is saying but you can easily see
>> what pic is saying.
>> Maybe people just haven't written much pic, but what you can do
>> with it, and see without rendering it, is pretty amazing.
>> I got James Clark to add the 'i'th concept so you could do for
>> loops to lay out elements and I wrote a pic script where you 
>> could set variables like cpus, networks, disks and it would
>> draw different configurations of a SPARCcluster.  
>> Pic is pretty neat, I find it easier to read than any of the
>> other troff preprocessors.
>> On Wed, Aug 10, 2022 at 09:05:20AM -0600, arnold at skeeve.com wrote:
>>> Hi All.
>>> Douglas McIlroy <douglas.mcilroy at dartmouth.edu> wrote:
>>>>> I've always believed that pic was so well designed
>>>>> because it took a day to get the print out (back then),
>>>> I'm afraid this belief is urban legend. Credit for pic is due 100% to
>>>> Kernighan, not to the contemporary pace of computing practice.
>>> I occassionally forward TUHS items (that I think are) of interest
>>> to Brian.  I have in the past forwarded one of Larry's "I like pic
>>> because I can read the code and visualize the picture" emails to
>>> him.  He responded that he didn't work that way. :-)
>>> Here, by permission, is his response to Larry's latest note of
>>> that kind, which I think is also of more or less general interest:
>>>> Date: Tue, 9 Aug 2022 19:03:00 -0400 (EDT)
>>>> From: Brian Kernighan <bwk at cs.princeton.edu>
>>>> To: arnold at skeeve.com
>>>> Subject: Re: larry mcvoy on pic, again
>>>> I don't know that I would read too much into the development of
>>>> Pic, though my memory is so dim that it would all be made up
>>>> anyway.
>>>> One observation: with Yacc and Lex available, languages were a lot
>>>> easier to implement; I had already done a troff preprocessor so
>>>> that aspect was well in hand.  And I was actually the owner of
>>>> troff at the same time, so I could mix and match (e.g., the
>>>> primitives for drawing lines).  I think that "seeing the output"
>>>> wasn't too hard, either because I could use the typesetter, or the
>>>> Tectronix 4014 (?) for which there was a troff output emulator
>>>> that I think I wrote.
>>>> The main issues as I recall were figuring out coordinate systems,
>>>> since Pic had Y going positive as with conventional plotting,
>>>> while troff had it going negative (down the page is higher Y
>>>> values).
>>>> But it's all kind of fuzzy at this point.
>> -- 
>> ---
>> Larry McVoy           Retired to fishing          http://www.mcvoy.com/lm/boat

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