[TUHS] man Macro Package and pdfmark

Larry McVoy lm at mcvoy.com
Wed Feb 19 14:44:44 AEST 2020

On Tue, Feb 18, 2020 at 12:22:56PM -0800, Greg A. Woods wrote:
> At the times I referred to the lack of freely available AT&T source code
> was extremely limiting in how people viewed the availability of such
> "add-on" tools for Unix -- including the C compiler!  

This wasn't just an AT&T thing, Sun and SGI and everyone charged for their
C compiler.  I sort of get it, writing a good compiler is up there with 
writing a good kernel in effort, not quite the same, but probably the 
2nd hardest thing to do.  So the compiler people cost a lot, companies
wanted to get that cost back.

It was stupid.  Having a free compiler meant that more people would 
write apps for your platform.   It should have been a loss leader.

> > For folks running binary only systems from Masscomp/Sun/DEC/HP/IBM and the
> > like, it is possible it was different.
> It was _very_ different.
> If you weren't out in the trenches of end-user Unix-based systems at the
> time it may not have been as obvious as to just how restrictive it was
> to have proprietary fee-based licensing of such add-on software.  Most
> end-users couldn't even pay their vendors for ditroff -- their vendors
> didn't want to have to license it from AT&T, even when they had
> advocates inside the companies (e.g. I did some work supporting software
> for a couple such vendors and was never able to convince them).  Some,
> as you mention, were all-in, but it wasn't until UNIX System V Release 4
> became more widely available that systems based on it were more likely
> to have ditroff, and sometimes (though much more rarely) the "new" dpost
> post-processor was also included.  I don't know if there were different
> licensing terms for SysVr4 or not.  Don't get me started on how hard it
> also was to get some end users to buy a C compiler too.

Yep, lived through this as well.  I fought with Sun to make more stuff
free for developers, it just didn't make sense to not do that but the
powers that were didn't get it.

One thing that Sun did do, probably in spite of itself, was fund 
Michael Tiemann's work on C++.  He worked out some deal that that
work would be open source and he pretty much made GNU C++ work
for some definition of work (C++ is a mess).

More information about the TUHS mailing list