Running pdftex on a file consisting just of...

\input amstex

...these two lines, I get an

! I can't find file `amstex'.

error. I have amstex.sty located at


but even if I include the complete path to amstex.sty, it complains like this when I run pdftex...

! Undefined control sequence: l.24 %\PackageError

...from which I conclude that the file amstex.sty is not actually what I'm looking for. (?)

How do I correctly configure my environment, so that amstex can be loaded in plain TeX? (Sorry I'm a newbie, yes.)

  • 2
    Why are you using plain tex (and especially amstex)? amstex is completely unsupported not even the AMS who originally commissioned it use it anymore. May 3, 2017 at 14:34
  • Hi, thanks. I do not have amstex.tex on my system. Should I download it and create the amstex directory (which is missing as well), or should I be updating my tex configuration in some less ad-hoc way? (I use macports, by the way.) And would I always have to include the complete path to the file, with pdftex?
    – Labrador
    May 3, 2017 at 20:26
  • 1
    you should be able to install it via your texlive installer (tlmgr or the mac tex live utitility thing) , but are you really sure you want to use amstex? If you have some document from the 1980s that you need to process then it makes sense, but for new documents it makes no sense at all. the code is unsupported and not maintained in any way. May 3, 2017 at 20:28
  • 1
    egreg is very old and started with amstex, and was answering a question on how to use those fonts for plain tex, so using amstex is perhaps a reasonable answer, but for new documents using code that is no longer supported by its original author is not the choice I would make. May 3, 2017 at 20:40
  • 1
    plain tex is the "basic macros" from appendix B of the texbook. A well documented and instructive example. learning it is a good way to learn about TeX but I would never use it to typeset a document. Developed formats such as context or latex have 30 years of development since plain tex was written, and while of course it is not impossible to write something with equivalent features starting from plain tex there is no reason to suppose it would take less time than that May 3, 2017 at 20:54

1 Answer 1

 \input amstex

will not input amstex.sty (and that should not be input to plain) you want amstex.tex which is typically installed as


or in your case


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