March 15, 2003: The RUNOFF source file of this document has not been located. This file is the result of scan, OCR, and manual touchup, starting with an original hectograph copy.
January 8, 1965
PROGRAMMING STAFF NOTE 40
SUBJ: Experimental Additions to the RUNOFF Command
FROM: J.H. Saltzer
A number of experimental features have been added to
the control word language of the RUNOFF command, primarily
to learn of possible directions in which such a language
should develop. It is hoped that this note, and usage of
the command itself will spark discussion and creative
suggestions to aid in the development. The experimental
features are described here, rather than in a publication
for general distribution, since they are not necessarily
smoothly implemented or bugfree, and they are subject to
change pending reassessment of their value.
Although the ability to produce acceptable flow
diagrams with a typewriter is limited, some useful things
can be done even in this medium. The following control
words are designed to simplify the composition of a flow
This control word turns control over to a figure
processor, which creates in core memory a representation of
a flow diagram under the control of a few special control
words. When the control word ".end figure" is encountered,
the completed picture is printed immediately on the page
being generated if there is room on that page; otherwise the
figure will appear at the top of the next page. Text
following the ".end figure" control word will be smoothly
attached to text before the ".figure", no break is
generated. (Restriction: If a figure is being held for
placement at the top of the next page, another figure may
not be encountered before the first one is printed.) The
only control words which are recognized when in the figure
processor are the following three:
.frame m n
This control word intitalizes the figure processor by
giving the height and width of the figure to be produced.
"m" is the height, in lines; and "n" is the width, in
characters. (Note that a 1050 types 6 lines per inch, and
10 characters per inch.) Any attempt to place items in the
picture which extend beyond the boundaries will cause an
error comment to be generated. M and n must both be less
than 100 and their product must be smaller than 5400. We
may now think of the figure to be produced as an array of m
x n elements.
.box i j
The text on the lines following this control word will
be placed in the figure such that the first character on the
first line following the ".box" will appear in row "i",
character position "j". The end of the text is indicated by
a ".box" control word for another piece of text or the ".end
figure" control word. Temporarily, the text should not
include underlined or overtyped characters.
This control word causes control to return to the
regular control processor of the RUNOFF command, for the
decision to print the picture. Note that another ".figure"
control word may not appear until after this figure has been
One further control word has been added which is
intended to facilitate bringing out revised editions of a
The next line to be printed after this control word is *
encountered will have an asterisk placed two spaces to the
right of the right margin, as illustrated.
This control word defines the value of the sumbol
"symbol" to be the number of the page currently being
printed. The symbol may be used later with the ".use"
control word to cause printing of the page number in text.
The characters in the symbol must be mappable into the
six-bit character set, and all symbols must be six of fewer
The value of the symbol "symbol" is inserted into the
text with a single blank preceding and no blank following.
If the symbol has not been previously defined, its value is
"0". Text may continue following a blank typed after the
Here is an example of the use of these control words.
In one area of text:
We now discuss the operation of the typewriter
coordinator module, which . . .
In a later area of text:
As we saw in the discussion of the typewriter
coordinator on page
.use ref1 , the rest of . . .
If the first area of text were on page 14, the later
line would read:
As we saw in the discussion of the typewriter
coordinator on page 14, the rest of . . .
A number of suggestions have been made for extending
the control word language of RUNOFF, and its capabilities.
These are listed here, primarily to elicit comment and
discussion, both on the language which describes these
operations and the less important problem of their
1. Word division. This is a whole are of study in itself.
2. Automatic footnote insertion. This was handled
somewhat awkwardly in the DITTO command, although the
basic approach was probably reasonable.
3. Automatic page references, perhaps via some symbolic
reference scheme. This would enable the page number
in "as was described on page 32" to be inserted by the
program. The analogy with an assembly program should
be hotly pursued for ideas.
4. Special provision for printing facing pages. This
would require alternate running heads, placing page
numbers alternately at right and left, and matching
line counts on facing pages.
5. Improved page-division rules, to prevent the last line
of a paragraph appearing alone at the top of a page,
for example. At present, copy must be run off to check
by hand that awkward page divisions have not been made.
6. Automatic generation of page numbers for a table of
contents. Again, the analogy of an assembly program
symbol table appears fruitful.
7. Automatic generations of an index. The problem here is
obtaining too many references to a given word, many
8. Arrangement of tabulated data. This problem may have
already been partly approached with the above-described
figure generator, or the facilities already available
in RUNOFF, but automatic setup of column widths and
positions would be desirable. One could include in
this category the ability to call on other programs to
computer numbers to place in tables, although this is
going pretty far afield.
9. Placing figures in a "cut" or inset. The control
language is the most difficult problem here.
10. Equation typing and numbering. Again, the control
language appears formidable.