[TUHS] Documentation Call Numbers and Meanings?

Kevin Bowling kevin.bowling at kev009.com
Fri Oct 7 14:34:15 AEST 2022

On Mon, Oct 3, 2022 at 2:05 PM segaloco via TUHS <tuhs at tuhs.org> wrote:

> Good afternoon folks, linked is a list of all of the call numbers of
> UNIX-relevant documentation that I've been able to catalogue lately:
> https://pastebin.com/DbDAhX3W
> This isn't exhaustive, I skipped many documents under dept (assuming dept)
> 305, 306, and 308, focusing mainly on 700, 301, 307, and 320.
> I was wondering if anyone that has some knowledge of the numbering system
> used for these documents in Bell might be able to comment on this in any
> way. What I've been able to make some determination on is:

The numbering system seems vaguely similar to BSPs (

There are top level BSP sections for the 3B2 and 3B20 among other
interesting history to this community.  For some reason the telephone
community hasn’t done a good job of digitizing the complete BSPs nor a
modern index (I physically browsed an index from the early 90s but someone
disappeared it from where I did so).  I’ve heard are private collectors
with complete collections of some vintage.

> 700-prefixed call numbers appear to be general Western Electric stuff,
> most of these manuals being related to switching, power, hardware, etc.
> However, the UNIX 3.0 manual and 4.0 reference guide are both under this
> series too. I imagine this was simply because the computer systems group
> hadn't been formally spun off or otherwise received directive to manage
> UNIX documentation at this point? In any case, I'd be curious what all else
> may have gotten 700-series call numbers before the 300-series took over
> UNIX docs.
> As for the 300 series, as far as I can tell 300 is the umbrella for AT&T
> Computer Systems, with several sub departments handling slightly different
> (although overlapping in circumstances) concerns. What I have managed to
> determine is that 301 series encompasses the original System V version
> documentation, a few "Level II COBOL" documents, as well as some M68000 and
> Z8000-specific versions of docs (I didn't know UNIX System V ever hit the
> Z8000, that's cool).
> After System V gold, the wealth of UNIX documentation appears to come from
> code 307-X instead, I'm assuming 307 is whatever permutation of USG/USL
> happened to exist at the time. However, there are a few other codes that
> seem to sporadically be involved in UNIX docs as well as other computing
> docs:
> 302 - Just a smattering of Writers Workbench docs, very high call number
> suffixes (950-958).
> 303 - Bunch of 3B20D (Real-Time-Reliable) docs as well as other 3B20
> stuff, mainly hardware manuals but a few SVR2.1-related docs as well for
> 3B20A, S, and D
> 304 - Another smattering of 3B20 docs, this time mostly A and S, mix of
> hardware and UNIX docs
> 305 - This one is hard to pin down, they've got the basic 3B2 docs, some
> other guidance docs for non-20 3B computers, and a mishmash of language
> tools like assemblers, a BASIC interpreter, compilers, and a few odd
> technical bulletins for products covered in other groups
> 306 - There wasn't much direct UNIX documentation here, just stuff about
> 3BNet (3B computer networking?) and the 5620 DOT Mapped terminal
> 308 - Documentation on a whole mess of software utilities with some odd
> Sys V manuals sprinkled in. You've got stuff like the "Office Telesystem",
> Instructional Workbench, more docs on BASIC, Pascal, and COBOL, some
> Fortran stuff as well, and a few other reference documents
> 310 - Seems to be entirely related to Documenter's and Writer's
> Workbenches. Whats odd is there is also a pretty even split of DWB and WWB
> documents in the 302 and 307 groups, so hard to say why the split, maybe a
> secondary department producing supplementary literature? Very low call
> number suffixes, so possibly 302 transitioned into 310 for DWB/WWB support
> 311 - Might be a "trade book" publishing arm, seems to only contain a few
> books, including "The C Programming Language"
> 320 - Might be the "standard systems" trade books arm as opposed to the
> version/system specific documentation gotten from USL directly. This list
> contains books like the SVID, Bach's Design of the UNIX Operating System
> book, some programming guidance books, and the UNIX Programmer's Manual 5
> volume series with the metallic alphabet blocks on the cover (echoing the
> V7 trade release). What's interesting is call number 320-X comes back
> around with SVR4 as the call code that a number of 386-specific manuals
> were published under.
> 341 - This one is very odd, a higher call number than any of the others,
> but the only docs I could find under this are the System V gold Document,
> Graphics, Programming, and Support Tools guides, which curiously weren't
> published under 301 like the rest of the documentation for that version.
> Finally, some digestion from this research:
> This gives some compelling version-support information in early SysV I
> wasn't aware of previously:
>    - System V Gold:
>       - PDP-11
>       - VAX-11
>       - 3B
>       - M68000
>       - Z8000
>    - System V R2:
>       - VAX-11
>       - 3B
>       - M68000
>       - NS32000
>       - iAPX 286
> It appears Bell also opted to have different documentation sets for
> different processors in SVR2. We kinda see this later on with i386 variants
> of the SVR3 and SVR4 documents, but I don't think we ever quite see this
> wide of a spread of docs straight from AT&T after this.
> Also, among the many documents (one I didn't add to the list yet) is one
> referring specifically to UNIX Release 5.3, not System V R3 or anything
> like that, but a Release 5.3. I know I've seen "Release 5.2" listed in a
> few places, which had me curious, is there a well established record of
> what happened with internal (non research) UNIX after System V was
> branched? Whether the development stream simply became System V
> development, or if there was still a totally separate UNIX 5.x branch for a
> while that, while borrowed into System V at necessary times, did still
> constitute a distinct branch of development after the initial System V
> release. I know there is at least evidence of aspects of System V being put
> into CB UNIX 2.3, meaning CB 2.3 was post-System V, that would make a
> compelling argument for there being some more development work between CB
> and USG folks before they put the final bow on the UNIX/TS project and
> formally routed all efforts to System V.
> I'm sure there are other little nuggets of information hiding in there,
> but that's my digest from this thus far. If anyone knows of any other such
> efforts to produce a listing of all known UNIX documentation call numbers
> from AT&T, I'll happily contribute this to their efforts.
> - Matt G.
> P.S. SysV Gold scans are still inbound, just likely will be a winter
> project once the rains start and I can't go play outside.
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