In a few places one finds a reference to the following document:

Barbara Beeton (ed), “TeX and METAFONT: Errata and Changes” (dated 09 September 11, 1983), Distributed with TUGboat, Volume 4, 1983.

This document is said to contain the changes between TeX78 and TeX82 (perhaps differences between the old TeX78 manual and The TeXbook). Thus it represents an important “gap” in TeX's detailed history recorded in errorlog. For example, it is mentioned in this article as reference [1]:

By studying the log you can see all the stages in the evolution of TeX as new features replaced or extended old ones — except that I did not record the changes I made when I re-wrote the original program TeX78 and prepared the final one, TeX82. [footnote:] Those changes were summarized briefly in another publication for early users [1].

And as reference [16] in this paper (i.e. The Errors of TeX):

The first 519 items refer to the original program TeX78, which was written in SAIL [...] The remaining items [...] refer to the ‘real’ program TeX82, which was written in WEB. [...] The differences between TeX78 and TeX82, seen from a user’s standpoint, have been listed elsewhere.[16]

Is this document available anywhere? The TUGboat website mentions it under “Supplements” to the table of contents for TUGboat 4:2 (and elsewhere), but perhaps as it wasn't part of TUGboat itself, it doesn't seem to have been put online.

  • none of the supplements have been put on line, and some others (not the errata) will never be, because they contain information now prohibited by (at least) the european union's rules on privacy. i will have to research the errata listings situation; the one you refer to i am sure was processed with tex78, and certainly never became a pdf file. it may take a few days to research, but i will answer when i have done so. Oct 12, 2018 at 14:46
  • @barbarabeeton Thanks a lot! I would very much like to read it. Oct 12, 2018 at 15:03
  • quick note -- i've found a copy. i'm discussing with some other folks where it might be posted, and will make an answer when those questions are answered. Oct 13, 2018 at 21:51
  • @barbarabeeton Great to hear a copy has been located! I look forward to it becoming available... Oct 15, 2018 at 17:11

2 Answers 2


A copy of the document “TeX and METAFONT: Errata and Changes”, originally distributed as a supplement to TUGboat 4:2 (1983), has been scanned from the possibly only remaining original, and posted with that issue on the TUG website. (The original files no longer exist, or at least cannot be found. The scanned copy is a bit fuzzy, but it's complete -- all 47 pages of it, including an index to the differences between TeX82 and TeX80.)

The link is at the bottom of this page

As a small bonus, a second document is provided -- a listing of "all errors in the September 1978 TeX user manual that were known on November 4, 1978." This is also a scan -- a two-up printout of an ascii file that once existed on the SAIL computer; a comment at the top of the first page implies strongly that the original files were destroyed after the listing was printed.

The scanned pdf version of the November 1978 document has been joined by a text version. This was produced by first subjecting the scan to an OCR version (thanks, David Carlisle), then reading and correcting as necessary. (The letters "eye" and "ell" and backslashes didn't fare particularly well -- the letters often turned into the digit one, some backslashes also became "one" and others just disappeared. many spaces were dropped at the beginning of lines, and some lines were run in. Some braces and less-than signs turned into parentheses. An occasional "em" turned into "en". Other random glitches weren't consistent enough to make global checking profitable.) I'm not sure that all glitches were caught or corrected, so if anyone has the energy and patience to reread it carefully, please send any reports to [email protected] and corrections will be made as appropriate.


For what it's worth, the additional document that @barbarabeeton provided (at least something very close to it; in fact I think it's more complete even though it is dated earlier than the scan) can be found in its original form here: ERRATA.TXT[TEX,DEK] at the SAILDART archive. If anyone who is interested in the minutiae about early TeX history isn't already aware of this site, it's a goldmine. Some of the earliest material like TEXDR.AFT[TEX,DEK] has been reprinted in Knuth's Computers and Typesetting, but there's so much more. The following files comprise the source code of the last version of TeX written in SAIL before being "released" in its Pascal/WEB form: TEXDVI.SAI, TEXDVI.SAI, TEXEXT.SAI, TEXHDR.SAI, TEXOUT.SAI, TEXPRE.SAI, TEXPRS.SAI, TEXSEM.SAI, TEXSEM.SAI, and TEXSYN.SAI. TEXPRS and TEXDVI are just two of several variant output modules with different "targets".

  • 2
    Thanks! I was actually aware of this site, which is a goldmine as you said, but I got so engrossed in the earlier items that I hadn't yet gotten this far (to 1982). :-) BTW the earliest descriptions TEXDR.AFT and TEX.ONE (both written before a single line of TeX-related code) are reprinted in Digital Typography for their historical value. Jul 9, 2019 at 7:14
  • @ShreevatsaR Ah yes -- I had forgotten it appeared there. I'll edit my answer to refer to more obscure content.
    – texdr.aft
    Jul 10, 2019 at 0:01
  • 1
    BTW the above .SAI files are also available towards the bottom of cs.stanford.edu/~knuth/programs.html though that's only the latest version and SAILDART also includes some earlier versions. Jul 18, 2019 at 17:34

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