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Re: [groff] troff Address book

From: Doug McIlroy
Subject: Re: [groff] troff Address book
Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2019 10:16:14 -0400
User-agent: Heirloom mailx 12.5 7/5/10

> I was wondering if some kind of pre-processor existed back in the time

Yes, "form" and "fed", a form-letter generator and editor, were in the 2nd
through 6th editions of Unix. Created by Bob Morris and Lorinda Cherry,
they were independent of roff, but could of course could produce roff
input. You can find their man pages and perhaps their source code in
the Unix Archive at  (Bear in mind that both man macros
and C were different back then.)

Bob Morris used it to patch boilerplate comments into journal referee
reports: sentences such as, "Related work, in particular ]1], should be
cited."  with [1]" and "This paper manuscript presents a known result,
previously published in [2]".  The referee reports themselves were kept
in the same repository.  The system reminded me of Vannevar Bush's Memex
proposal, but other uses did not materialize and it died of neglect.


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