[TUHS] [OT] Re: earliest Unix roff

Norman Wilson norman at oclsc.org
Fri Sep 20 04:50:26 AEST 2019

> We can discuss whether the split was necessary or "right" in the first
> instance, as we could discuss whether it was good or not for cat(1) to
> leave Murray Hill in 1979 with no options and come back from Berkley
> with a source code doubled in size and 9 options in 1982.

We needn't discuss that (though of course there are opinions and
mine are the correct ones), but in the interest of historic accuracy,
I should point out by 1979 (V7) cat had developed a single option -u
to turn off stdio buffering.

Sometime before 1984 or so, that option was removed, and cat was
simplified to just
	while ((n = read(fd, buf, sizeof(buf))) > 0)
		write(1, buf, n)
(error checking elided for clarity)
which worked just fine for the rest of the life of the Research

So it's true that BSD added needless (in my humble but correct
opinion) options, but not that it had none before they touched it.
Unless all those other programs were stuffed into cat in an earlier
Berkeley system, but I don't think they were.

Norman Wilson
Toronto ON
(Three cats, no options)

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