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Questions tagged [tex-history]

The history and origins of TeX and its variants, their applications, their supporting software (such as fonts or viewers), and their mythology and heraldry.

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Why did Donald Knuth create TeX?

I am aware of the basic history of TeX and LaTeX and Dr. Knuth's motivation for creating TeX. Mainly, he was disappointed with the quality of the galley proofs of the second edition of his book after ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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TeXbook, Appendix C: Character Codes -- what exactly is the third table shown in that appendix about?

Sorry for not providing a Minimal Working/Demonstrating Example. The question is not about code but about understanding what is written in the TeXbook. TeXbook, Appendix C: Character Codes presents ...
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0 votes
0 answers
45 views

Before LaTeX editors were invented, how did plain TeX authors output their code? [duplicate]

"Output" doesn't just mean PDF files. It could also mean PostScript or plain paper (made from trees). This might seem like a goofy question, but I couldn't find the answer with a search ...
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10 votes
1 answer
475 views

What tools/advice/methods should I utlize to practice "The TeXbook by Donald Knuth"?

The short question is: How do I progress with this book? What tools should I download? A step by step explanation would be deeply appreciated .. The experience I had: Am a computer science student and ...
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48 votes
8 answers
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*Why* does TeX not allow numbers in command names?

I am not asking how the syntax of TeX works. I know perfectly well that only letters are allowed in command names, except for single-character names and constructions using \csname. I’m just asking: ...
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4 votes
0 answers
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Does anything of this 1988 “TeX in CWEB” still exist?

In TUGboat 9:2 (1988), there is an interesting article titled “TeX adapted to CWEB”, written by David Kennedy of Micro Publishing Systems, Inc. [Literate programming historians should note that the ...
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20 votes
1 answer
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LaTeX prehistory

I came into LaTeX in the 80s and my copy of LaTeX: A Document Preparation System already described LaTeX 2.09. I'm curious if anyone here knows about the versions of LaTeX that preceded that. What ...
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15 votes
2 answers
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Who designed the mathematical blackboard bold letters of AMS, and when?

Recently I have been investigating some history of the mathbb(mathematical blackboard bold) letters of AMS, which can be called by invoking amsfonts or amssymb package. By the content on page 35 of ...
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19 votes
1 answer
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What is the history of graphic constructions since TeX?

With LaTeX, to natively build a figure, there is the picture mode. Today, there are also the pstricks and TikZ packages. How was it originally done to draw figures in TeX? Was it possible? I couldn't ...
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2 votes
1 answer
413 views

Use of cmbx fonts over cmb

Sorry if this is off-topic, but I had a little question regarding the bold fonts in Computer Modern. As far as I can tell, Knuth created two bold fonts: one called cmb, which is a little more ...
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5 votes
1 answer
733 views

Where to find the original TEX specification, description?

From Wikipedia: TeX, ..., is a typesetting system (or a "formatting system") which was designed and mostly written by Donald Knuth and released in 1978. Since TeX is also a Turing-Complete ...
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17 votes
2 answers
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Was CTAN the first software repository?

I am currently preparing a course about creating Python packages and I want to start with a history of key developments in software distribution. One corner stone are software repositories. PyPI (...
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3 votes
0 answers
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Is the DOC version of PTEX available anywhere?

At the beginning of TeX: The Program we find that Preliminary plans to convert the SAIL code into a form somewhat like the present "web" were developed by Luis Trabb-Pardo and the author at the ...
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27 votes
2 answers
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Bo Derek in texbook.tex?

texbook.tex contains a double-dangerous-bend exercise which starts at line 18198 : \ddangerexercise ^{Powers of ten}: The whole \TeX\ language has now been summarized completely. To~demonstrate how ...
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6 votes
0 answers
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Historical imperfections of (La)TeX [closed]

Assume for a moment that all TeX literature, TeX software, TeX files etc. got destroyed in some global cataclysm. All information about TeX survives only in the mind of a few TeX gurus, or something ...
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13 votes
1 answer
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Are there any non-WEB re-implementation of TeX Core in recent years?

I am looking for re-implementations, in recent years, of the TeX core algorithm (which Knuth wrote in ca. 1982). It would seem to me that LaTeX, XeTeX, LuaTeX all call the TeX core, which is written ...
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6 votes
1 answer
134 views

two sets of hyphenation patterns without a newlanguage

While reading hymaster.tex, part of hyacc-cm, we find the following statement: It is important to use version 3.xx of TeX, and a version 3.xx of plain.tex. The critical date is autumn 1989, and ...
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17 votes
1 answer
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Can TeX files from 1978 still be compiled today?

I recently happened to be looking at the history of TeX and notice that Knuth originally released it in 1978 (according to Wikipedia). Are there TeX files around from this time? Can they still be ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Why cmmib10 font is not available in stripped down versions of TeX?

In TeXbook p.156 it is said: Suppose that you want to extend plain TEX by putting boldface math italic letters in family 9, analogous to the normal math italic letters in family 1. (Such fonts ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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Is there a bug in gftype.web's description of character widths?

Under https://www.ctan.org/tex-archive/systems/knuth/dist/mfware we find gftype.web. On line 574 of gftype.web it says: The character width~|w| duplicates the information in the \.{TFM} file; it ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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How to pronounce LaTeX correctly? [duplicate]

I have heard the following 4 pronunciations for this word LaTeX. Which is the correct one? Laatec Letec Laatecs Letecs
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12 votes
2 answers
1k views

What is the difference between TeXperts and TeXnicians?

Which of the two terms should I use to indicate skilled TeX users in "official" contexts, for example, a TUGBoat article? Here also TeXies is used, but I think this one is informal.
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18 votes
1 answer
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Did Knuth's wife have a role in TeX creation?

I've just read on The New York Times's article on Knuth The Yoda of Silicon Valley that his wife, Jill, is a graphic designer. Did she have a role in creating Knuth's TeX computer typesetting system? ...
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4 votes
0 answers
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Is the weird licensings incompatibility issue mentioned by Stallman still relevant? [closed]

In a recent article on FSF.org ** The main license in actual use that isn't reasonably behaved is the license of TeX: if two programs are licensed just the way TeX is, there is no authorized way to ...
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21 votes
1 answer
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How long did it take for Donald Knuth to create/design the font family of CM?

I want to know how long exactly did it take for Donald Knuth to create/design the font family of CM? (please answer based on authentic references.) Did the designing process take more than 10 years ...
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11 votes
2 answers
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Where can I find (TUGboat 4 supplement) "TeX and METAFONT: Errata and changes" from 1983?

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. ...
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8 votes
1 answer
458 views

The middle name of "Leslie B. Lamport"

What is the middle name of "Leslie B. Lamport", the initial developer of the document preparation system, LaTeX? I'm interested to know what is the middle name of his full name? I know the middle ...
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11 votes
1 answer
698 views

Why is \paragraph treated as level below \subsubsection?

Note: This is meant as a question about the historical development of LaTeX conventions, and how they influence Editor design, not as question about how to implement it differently. One of my pet-...
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22 votes
2 answers
2k views

What is the meaning of the name of the \intercal symbol?

I've noticed that the \intercal symbol is popular for denoting the transpose of a matrix, which is all good and fine (and something I've adopted as I agree, it looks slick). But if this symbol were ...
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2 votes
1 answer
121 views

What does svsec in \@svsec stand for?

Most of the following text you could probably skip. I just put it down there to show my effort. What does it do? Pretty sure I understand this already... In the LaTeX kernel, the generic heading ...
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7 votes
2 answers
570 views

LaTeX mascots/associated animals

Some different animals have been associated with LaTeX, depending on where you look. If i look on this site I will most likely come to believe, that the mascot of LaTeX is a duck. If i look at the ...
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8 votes
3 answers
475 views

Installation procedures of early TeX installations

First some background information. The old distributions of TeX included two programs, initex and virtex. Initex could create format files, and virtex could load them. These older versions of TeX (...
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15 votes
0 answers
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How are TeX/LaTeX projects funded? [closed]

One cannot avoid seeing the huge amount of work being done by people around the world to develop packages, classes, and even projects which dwarf LaTeX in terms of software complexity, and hence, in ...
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15 votes
2 answers
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What's the difference between \hfil and \hskip0cm plus 1fil?

What's the difference between \hfil and \hskip0cm plus 1fil? In both cases, a glue token is created that skips by zero, but with 1fil of stretchability. If you use \hbox spread 4cm{\hfil test \...
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2 votes
3 answers
630 views

Why doesn’t LaTeX center captions by default?

As you certainly know LaTeX does not center figure captions by default. The first line is centered in most cases, but the following lines behave like regular text. Centering all the lines can be ...
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8 votes
1 answer
1k views

Meaning of kpsewhich

I know that kpsewhich comes from an extend version of kpathsea so this deals with kpse in kpsewhich. But is the k comes from KDE or not ?
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40 votes
4 answers
6k views

Why are there so many underscores in LaTeX3 commands?

This question springs from a comment of mine and the subsequent discussion in chat. I don't know anything about TeX, but I can easily understand a command like: \let\oldmacro\somemacro whereas \...
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77 votes
5 answers
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Why is LaTeX free?

The fact that LateX is not paid seems to me as good as it is strange, being that many people work developing it. So..why is LaTeX free?
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10 votes
1 answer
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What is (or was) fsfTeX?

I noticed in this LaTeX configuration document a reference to something called "fsfTeX." Quote: Since we have been prompted, despite our misgivings, to document how to do this by members of the ...
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14 votes
1 answer
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Is NTS (New Typesetting System) (the Java implementation of TeX) usable today?

What I've read is that NTS (New Typesetting System) was a project to reimplement TeX in Java. According to the current version of the Wikipedia article, it was started with high hopes (and sufficient ...
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29 votes
2 answers
1k views

What is the origin of the family/series/shape distinction?

I've recently started to learn LaTeX, and have just come across the distinction between font commands and declarations. As a learner it seems unnecessarily complex that whereas the commands follow a ...
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76 votes
2 answers
5k views

Where's an example of the bad typesetting that inspired TeX?

Where online can I see a side-by-side comparison of the "good" typesetting of a page of TAOCP that Knuth liked in 1968 versus the equivalent "bad" second edition from 1976 that Knuth hated and caused ...
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16 votes
1 answer
763 views

Does the TeX lion mascot have a name?

Duane Bibby drew a lion for the TeXBook. https://www.ctan.org/lion/?lang=en Does the lion have a name?
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3 votes
2 answers
391 views

Where are Computer Modern fonts defined ? Need to cite this

Can someone tell me, where exactly the Computer Modern font family, that is the standard LaTeX font is defined? I need something to cite this, but all I could found was a reference to an old book, ...
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3 votes
0 answers
588 views

Is plain-TeX still useful? [closed]

I mean, are there reasons to use plain one? And if so, where, and what are benifits? Or should we forget plain-tex and use latex instead? I see plain-Tex docs are much smaller, so the question is "if ...
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  • 515
5 votes
1 answer
627 views

First printed TeX example program?

I have a couple of question regarding the first ever TeX example program to be published. I hear that it may be the first program in the TeXBook (Page 24) Is this true? I wonder also what the name R. ...
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6 votes
2 answers
935 views

Where can I find old versions of book.cls?

I'm looking for a copy of book.cls, version "1996/10/31 v1.3u". My goal is to port the changes made to a local copy of book.cls "1996/10/31 v1.3u" used in a legacy project to the newest version. The ...
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5 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why did latex choose italic for emphasis text

This is not a duplicate of What is the canonical way to redefine the \emph command because I am not looking to change the behavior of \emph{}. I just wanna know why did LaTeX choose the default ...
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3 votes
0 answers
196 views

How was maths formatted before LaTeX? [closed]

I was curious and couldn't immediately find anything on Google or this site. Granted this question might be slightly off topic, but I feel that the people here would probably be able to give a better ...
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14 votes
1 answer
558 views

Translation of typefaces into METAFONT (in the case of AMS Euler and others)

TL;DR: Let me ask my questions first: How was AMS Euler translated from Hermann Zapf's hand-drawn shapes into METAFONT? Has there been one into METAFONT's pen-strokes approach? What are other ...
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