[rescue] [off-topic] What was this markup language?

Laurence Brevard brevard at 1or0.com
Tue Dec 8 11:20:25 CST 2015

I used the DEC RUNOFF program to format documentation back in 1982-1983.

This was on a VAX 11/780 with VMS as the OS.

Output was formatted ASCII text that we printed using a daisy wheel
typewriter printer.

The only highlighting available was underlining - done by backspacing and
printing underlines.

Weird aside... my CPA wife's first office computers in 1983 ran MS-DOS
(on a semi-IBM-compatible system from Texas Instruments). For word
processing we had a trio of programs: EDIX, SPELLIX, and WORDIX. EDIX was
an ascii text editor that supported split windows. SPELLIX was the
spelling checker. And WORDIX recognized runoff, nroff-type "." commands
to do formatting.

Later we moved to EasyWriter which offered semi-WYSIWYG (bold, italic,
and underlines) editing and the ability to use long names for documents.
EasyWriter was written by the infamous "Captain Crunch" (John Draper)
while in prison!

>From there it was to Microsoft Works for DOS, then Word for DOS, and
finally Word for Windows.

By 1988 my main work computer was a Sun 4/110 and I used FrameMaker to
write specs and technical documentation. I was even a beta tester for the
first version that run on Windows (3.1). FrameMaker was used for a lot of
documentation at Sun and is still used heavily for technical
documentation today. Back then most of my colleagues used troff.

As for text markup today... Markdown seems to be increasingly used as a
quick way to generate formatted text in HTML.

I ran into it first with the enhanced version at GitHub:

FWIW... I really detest TeX and LaTeX but I think that's mostly due to
the personalities and self-righteous attitudes of all the people I know
who use it! ;-)


At 08:06 AM 12/8/2015, microcode at zoho.com wrote:

  On Tue, Dec 08, 2015 at 08:26:20AM -0500, Andrew M Hoerter wrote:
  > On 12/8/15 8:14, microcode at zoho.com wrote:
  > >I have dim memories of making a little money editing term papers
  on a DEC-20
  > >in the early 1980s. It seems to me I used some kind of markup
  language where
  > >the directives started with a "." character in the first column of
  > >line. I was able to do indenting and alignment and other
  text-processing stuff to
  > >make the papers print out nicely.
  > I'd guess something in the runoff family -- troff, nroff, etc.
  > Still used today every time you read a manpage.
  > >Next question, other than LaTeX, are there any good choices in
  simple markup
  > >languages suitable for writing letters and resumes, etc.? I'm not
  > >happy with Open/Libre Office nor the direction it's going in. I'd
  like to
  > >look into some alternative where the input stays as ASCII text.
  > There are several options out there, some niche, some popular -- a
  couple of
  > starter suggestions might be Markdown or Lout.

  Thanks. Now that it was probably some form of runoff I'll look into
  first but will keep your suggestions handy.
  rescue list - http://www.sunhelp.org/mailman/listinfo/rescue

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