[TUHS] Likely Late-73/Early-74 C Reference Manual (And NROFF Doc and Summary Changes)

KenUnix ken.unix.guy at gmail.com
Sun May 21 07:53:24 AEST 2023


On Sat, May 20, 2023 at 3:53 PM segaloco via TUHS <tuhs at tuhs.org> wrote:

> Came across something interesting by chance in the Sixth Edition document
> set I recently received.  I took the binder to the park for a little light
> reading and found myself perusing the C reference manual.  As an aside, I
> will always appreciate the style of the manual, and I still pick up
> something new or see something differently every time I flip the pages.
> The introduction includes these paragraphs:
> > Most of the software for the UNIX time-sharing system is written in C,
> as is the operating system itself.  C is also available on the HIS 6070
> computer at Murray Hill, using a compiler written by A. Snyder and
> currently maintained by S. C. Johnson.  A compiler for the IBM
> System/360/370 series is under construction.
> >
> > This is a manual only for the C language itself as implemented on the
> PDP-11.  Hints are given occasionally in the text of
> implementation-dependent features, and an appendix summarizes the
> differences between the Honeywell and DEC implementations; it also contains
> some known bugs in each.
> I didn't think too much of this initially, but then I found myself looking
> through some other old documents yesterday evening and found myself reading
> the memorandum version of the manual that Dennis linked to on his Bell Labs
> usr page:  https://www.bell-labs.com/usr/dmr/www/cman74.pdf
> In this version, the paragraphs have been altered and merged:
> > Most of the software for the UNIX time-sharing system is written in C,
> as is the operating system itself.  C is also available on the HIS 6070
> computer at Murray Hill and and on the IBM System/370 at Holmdel.  This
> paper is a manual only for the C language itself as implemented on the
> PDP-11.  However, hints are given occasionally in the text of
> implementation-dependent features.
> So between the two, the print document I have here indicates the compiler
> for IBM mainframes is still in the works, but by the January 15, 1974
> document, it is noted as complete and in use in Holmdel.  Additionally,
> this print document mentions an appendix detailing DEC vs. Honeywell
> differences and some other bug notes.  Unfortunately this appendix doesn't
> actually appear to be in the binder, so either it wasn't done yet or was
> tossed by a previous owner some time ago.  Luckily, this appendix, despite
> the reference being dropped, *is* on the cman74 version.
> In any case, upon discovering this, I then spot checked the rest of the
> contents of the two by seeing if any paragraphs had strange offsets from
> each other or there were noticeable changes in the visual flow.  I didn't
> read each and every line, instead opting to see if paragraphs still had the
> same number of lines, the same "outline" (i.e. lines seem to start, end,
> and break pretty much the same), and that pages started and ended the same,
> and everything pretty much matched.  There may be punctuation changes or
> other minor edits, but I didn't see anything indicating major changes in
> the language.  The only other thing noticeably different is the references
> list, with Dennis's cman74 copy containing two extra references mine does
> not: "A User's Guide to the C Language on the IBM 370." by T.G. Peterson
> and M.E. Lesk, 1974, and "Programming in C- A Tutorial." by B.W. Kernighan,
> 1974.  The latter is listed as unpublished in cman74.  In my copy, aside
> from the two omitted references, the reference to the CACM paper does not
> have a date, instead just saying "To appear in C. ACM." and "The GCOS C
> Library" is listed as an unpublished memorandum with a speculative year of
> 1974.
> So all in all, this appears to be a C Reference Manual most likely from
> late 1973, or however unlikely, one that was very rapidly published in the
> first few weeks of 1974 before the mentioned changes on January 15th of
> that year.
> Are there any known copies of the manual that predate this which I can
> compare back with, or in any case is this particular revision known and
> captured somewhere?  If not, it should be trivial to take the sources from
> V6 and produce a facsimile copy until it bubbles up in my scanning list
> (much ahead of it, got the ROFF manual scanned the other day, hoping to hit
> TMG and m6 in the next few.)
> There is also an NROFF manual here that I see referenced in the TOC of the
> V6 document set in the source, but don't actually see in files.  It is
> dated 9/11/74 and is only labeled "NROFF Users' Manual", no TROFF in the
> title.  It is also noted as the "Second Edition" in the header.  This
> document makes reference to the "TROFF User's Manual", dated April 1974,
> also by Ossanna.  Of note too is a "Quick NROFF Addendum" dated 5/19/75
> that is included at the end.
> Finally, a slightly later version of the UNIX summary appears, dated
> August, 1975 instead of May, 1975, the date of the one in the V6 sources.
> It has minor chnages, most noticeably that the last few pages regarding
> NROFF and TROFF stuff have been split into two sections, one with more
> NROFF-y stuff and one with more more TROFF-y stuff.
> Anywho, nothing earth shattering here, but at the very least, a couple of
> document variants vs. what is currently on the archive.
> - Matt G.

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