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Re: [Groff] Joseph Ossanna

From: Ralph Corderoy
Subject: Re: [Groff] Joseph Ossanna
Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2001 11:30:59 +0100

Hi Ted,

> > It appears that he died, prematurely, in 1977 and, therefore, in
> > the early days of UNIX and troff.  But there is no information I
> > can find as to why he died, for instance, and certainly nothing
> > else about him.
> I know it was an auto accident, but nothing more.

IIRC he was hit by a car.  Kernighan said in one email to me that it
was in 1976 but since that was an aside he might not have been accurate
and I see _A Quarter Century of UNIX_ gives 28th November 1977 so I
think it must be right.

I've also seen claims that Ossanna wrote Multics runoff in BCPL before
going onto troff in PDP assembler which he later turned into C.
Although this conflicts with AQCOU's account so again I'd lean to the

Interestingly, Plan 9's troff still has C code which when I was having
problems with Kernighan wrote

    "the flow in that function has defeated me, though i've struggled
    with it from time to time; i finally decided that it wasn't worth
    worrying about.  it really is a direct transliteration of the
    pdp-11 assembly language version.

If bwk thought it wasn't worth worrying about I decided not to either

> Maybe you can directly contact Kernighan?

That would be mine main suggestion along with alt.folklore.computers
which I know Dennis Ritchie reads and posts in.  You might find some
other colleagues of Joe's step forth.

Do you mind my asking why you're interested?  Don't worry if you'd
rather not say.


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