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Original author(s)Jerome H. Saltzer
Initial release1964; 57 years ago (1964)
Written inMAD assembler and FAP
Operating systemCompatible Time-Sharing System
PlatformIBM 7094
TypeDocument editor and text formatting programs

TYPSET is an early document editor that was used with the 1964-released RUNOFF program, one of the earliest text formatting programs to see significant use.[1]

Of two earlier print/formatting programs DITTO and TJ-2, only the latter had, and introduced, text justification; RUNOFF also added pagination.

The name RUNOFF, and similar names led to other formatting program implementations. By 1982 Runoff[2] largely became associated with Digital Equipment Corporation and Unix computers. DEC used the terms VAX DSR and DSR to refer to VAX DIGITAL Standard Runoff.[3]



The original RUNOFF type-setting program for CTSS was written by Jerome H. Saltzer. Bob Morris and Doug McIlroy translated that from MAD assembler to BCPL.[4] Morris and McIlroy then moved the BCPL version to Multics when the IBM 7094 on which CTSS ran was being shut down.


Documentation for the Multics version of RUNOFF described it as "types out text segments in manuscript form."[5]

Other versions and implementations

A later version of runoff for Multics was written in PL/I by Dennis Capps, in 1974.[6] This runoff code was the ancestor of roff that was written for the fledgling Unix in machine language by Ken Thompson.

Other versions of Runoff were developed for various computer systems including Digital Equipment Corporation's PDP-11 minicomputer systems running RT-11, RSTS/E, RSX on Digital's PDP-10[7] and for OpenVMS on VAX minicomputers, as well as UNIVAC Series 90 mainframes using the EDT text editor under the VS/9 operating system. These different releases of Runoff typically had little in common except the convention of indicating a command to Runoff by beginning the line with a period.

The origin of IBM's SCRIPT (markup) software began in 1968 when "IBM contracted Stuart Madnick of MIT to write a simple document preparation ..."[8] to run on CP/67.[9] He modeled it on MIT's CTSS RUNOFF.[10][11]


RUNOFF was written in 1964 for the CTSS operating system by Jerome H. Saltzer in MAD and FAP.

It actually consisted of a pair of programs, TYPSET (which was basically a document editor), and RUNOFF (the output processor). RUNOFF had support for pagination and headers, as well as text justification (TJ-2 appears to have been the earliest text justification system, but it did not have the other capabilities).

RUNOFF is a direct predecessor of the runoff document formatting program of Multics, which in turn was the ancestor of the roff and nroff document formatting programs of Unix, and their descendants. It was also the ancestor of FORMAT for the IBM System/360, and of course indirectly of every computerized word processing system.

Likewise, RUNOFF for CTSS was the predecessor of the various RUNOFFs for DEC's operating systems, via the RUNOFF developed by the University of California, Berkeley's Project Genie for the SDS 940 system.[12][13]

The name is alleged to have come from the phrase at the time, I'll run off a copy.[14]



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See also

  • SCRIPT (markup)
  • Expensive Typewriter
  • Colossal Typewriter
  • TECO
  • TJ-2


  1. ^ Jerome H. Saltzer (November 6, 1964). "TYPSET and RUNOFF, Memorandum editor and type-out commands".
  2. ^ a name not possible before lower case letters were introduced to file names
  3. ^ VAX DSR Quick Reference Guide. 1982.
  4. ^ "Multics Features". Ken Thompson wrote a version of QED in BCPL, and Doug McIlroy and Bob Morris wrote Multics runoff in BCPL based on Jerry Saltzer's MAD version of RUNOFF
  5. ^ "Info segment for runoff command". MIT.edu.
  6. ^
    Subject: Re: UNIX manpage history: CTSS RUNOFF 
    From: Jerry Saltzer Date: ...
    ... "compose" >> >> was apparently a PL/I re-write of RUNOFF on Multics. ...
    ... record shows Dennis Capps as >> >> starting compose in 1974.
    — "UNIX manpage history: CTSS RUNOFF". October 23, 2011.
  7. ^ "The Language List". ... RUNOFF - An early text-formatting language supported under TOPS-10 on the PDP-10.
  8. ^ "Script/PC". PC Magazine. March 19, 1985. p. 210. IBM contracted Stuart Madnick of MIT to write a simple document preparation ..."
  9. ^ "SCRIPT, An On-Line Manuscript Processing System".
  10. ^ "What does sCrIPT mean?". SCRIPT was developed for CP-67/CMS by Stuart Madnick at MIT, succeeding CTSS RUNOFF.
  11. ^ "History of UNIX Manpages". 1967: SCRIPT (Stuart Madnick). In 1967, Madnick ported the RUNOFF code to the IBM CP67/CMS at IBM as SCRIPT. The documentation of SCRIPT explicitly ...
  12. ^ John V. Everett (1997-02-08). "Re: Runoffs (was: TJ-2, a very early word-processor-like program for the PDP-1)". Newsgroup: alt.sys.pdp10. Usenet: [email protected]. Retrieved 2008-11-14.
  13. ^ Barnes, Larry (27 March 1973). RUNOFF: A Program for the Preparation of Documents (PDF). Bitsavers' PDF Document Archive. Washington, DC: Office of the Secretary of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. R-37. Retrieved 14 November 2008.
  14. ^ "What does troff mean?". The New Hacker's Dictionary. ... ROFF which was in turn modeled after the Multics and CTSS program RUNOFF by Jerome Saltzer (that name came from the expression “to run off a copy”).


External links

Honeywell Bull, Inc. (Feb 1985). Multics Commands and Active Functions (AG92-06) (PDF). pp. 3-822 to 3-842. Retrieved Feb 23, 2012.

"Runnoff documentation". MIT. Retrieved 25 July 2013.

By: Wikipedia.org
Edited: 2021-06-18 19:10:58
Source: Wikipedia.org