Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? - MathOverflow most recent 30 from http://mathoverflow.net 2013-05-26T05:19:53Z http://mathoverflow.net/feeds/question/19930 http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.5/rdf http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? psihodelia 2010-03-31T10:39:29Z 2012-12-14T10:56:16Z <p>I wonder how people wrote papers in the pre-LaTeX era? I mean, when typewriters and simple computers were (60th-70th?). Did they indeed put formulas by hand in the already printed articles?</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/19945#19945 Answer by Felipe Voloch for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? Felipe Voloch 2010-03-31T12:42:04Z 2010-03-31T14:43:23Z <p>IBM selectric typewriter and every dept had a technical typist. You make me feel old, dammit.</p> <p><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Selectric_typewriter" rel="nofollow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Selectric_typewriter</a></p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/19950#19950 Answer by Gerald Edgar for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? Gerald Edgar 2010-03-31T13:58:35Z 2010-03-31T13:58:35Z <p>Look at some of the early "Lecture Notes in Mathematics" to see examples. (Your university library probably has these, right?) The authors were supposed to supply Springer with "camera-ready copy". The oldest one I have on my shelf seems to be 355 (Maurice Sion, 1973). Some symbols are typed in, but others (script letters, $\subset$ inclusion symbols) are written in by hand.</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/19951#19951 Answer by Deane Yang for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? Deane Yang 2010-03-31T14:32:40Z 2010-03-31T14:32:40Z <p>To elaborate on Felipe's answer:</p> <p>My father was a mathematicians, and, before the IBM Selectric typewriter, I can tell you that he bought an expensive manual German typewriter along with boxes of these plastic sticks, each with a metal head containing a math symbol. Very slow and very painful.</p> <p>Later, department secretaries (there used to be more of them) would have IBM selectric typewriters, which would use a metal coated plastic ball, and you would switch the ball to get different symbols. This normally worked pretty well, except sometimes the teeth on the bottom of the ball (which was serrated for some reason) would break. This would mess up the typing action, so it would no longer type the symbol or character properly.</p> <p>And even after TeX came along, there were only mainframes back then with ASCII terminals and line printers. I was one of the first people to type my thesis on TeX, and it required the following conditions: a) MIT AI lab was freely accessible by anyone (I was at Harvard, not MIT) 24 hours a day b) They had a machine running LISP and MACSYMA and wanted people to test it, so they gave out free accounts, usable only outside regular business hours, to anyone who asked c) TeX was installed on this machine d) People who worked in the MIT AI Lab would leave their offices open or unlocked, so if you walked in there in the middle of the night, you could go in there and use their Symbolics LISP machine.</p> <p>The last remaining challenge was getting access to the laser printer (which was the size of a room) that was inside the locked machine room. Luckily, I had a friend (MIT math graduate student who has been mentioned and cited often on MathOverflow) whose girlfriend (now wife) is the daughter of an MIT CS professor. I asked if I could borrow the father's key to the machine room. Miraculously, the answer was yes.</p> <p>I then gave up TeX for many years. At Courant they had an amazing typist named Caroline, who could type up long difficult papers at record speed.</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/19953#19953 Answer by Henno Brandsma for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? Henno Brandsma 2010-03-31T14:46:43Z 2012-12-02T04:59:14Z <p>On my university some people used troff (<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troff" rel="nofollow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troff</a>) for that. At least until the early nineties. There are all sorts of math macros in that too. It's not as nice looking as $\TeX$, but it does the job. We used Solaris, so it came with that program. I myself have only used $\TeX$ but I have typeset old stuff in troff.</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/19955#19955 Answer by Carl Weisman for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? Carl Weisman 2010-03-31T14:58:13Z 2010-03-31T14:58:13Z <p>Hard as it may be to believe now, typewriters that ordinary people used had no "+" or "1." In my last paper, I neglected to write in the "+" in my main theorem. The referee didn't notice.</p> <p>There were guidelines for underlining in various colors, to indicate various alphabets and effects.</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/19972#19972 Answer by Theo Johnson-Freyd for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? Theo Johnson-Freyd 2010-03-31T16:34:00Z 2010-03-31T16:34:00Z <p><a href="http://math.uoregon.edu/people/ross/" rel="nofollow">Ken Ross</a> used to maintain a small museum of old mathematical typesetting technology. He's very friendly: you could e-mail him and ask for dates for the various technologies. His favorite mathematical-typesetting invention was actually a pair: Xerox machines and Scotch tape.</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/20013#20013 Answer by Victor Miller for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? Victor Miller 2010-03-31T22:43:09Z 2010-03-31T22:43:09Z <p>And then there's the case of Serge Lang. Lang was an amazingly fast and accurate typist -- he could type at 90 words per minute. He developed an elaborate system using exacto knives, and glue. I remember having a conversation with him about the possibility of him switching to TeX. He replied that since he had developed an efficient and congenial system for him he didn't see any advantage to learning a new one.</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/47825#47825 Answer by none for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? none 2010-11-30T19:24:23Z 2010-11-30T19:24:23Z <p>Here's my favourite. Try skipping around in the scan.</p> <p><a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=VpptAAAAMAAJ&amp;printsec=frontcover&amp;#v=onepage" rel="nofollow">http://books.google.com/books?id=VpptAAAAMAAJ&amp;printsec=frontcover&amp;#v=onepage</a></p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/47834#47834 Answer by lhf for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? lhf 2010-11-30T21:25:16Z 2010-11-30T21:25:16Z <p>I used ChiWriter: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ChiWriter" rel="nofollow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ChiWriter</a></p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/47845#47845 Answer by Gerry Myerson for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? Gerry Myerson 2010-12-01T00:27:27Z 2010-12-01T00:27:27Z <p>I strongly recommend having a look at Joe Roberts, Elementary Number Theory, MIT Press, 1977, apparently available at <a href="http://www.ebook3000.com/Elementary-Number-Theory--A-Problem-Oriented-Approach_52452.html" rel="nofollow">http://www.ebook3000.com/Elementary-Number-Theory--A-Problem-Oriented-Approach_52452.html</a></p> <p>It's a great Number Theory textbook, but, more to the point for this discussion, it's done entirely in calligraphy (by Gregory Maskarinec). </p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/47859#47859 Answer by Jeff Strom for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? Jeff Strom 2010-12-01T03:42:54Z 2010-12-01T03:42:54Z <p>I remember in 1978 my Dad finished his thesis (in philosophy); my Mom typed it, but there were a few places where he needed to draw in some symbolic logic symbols. "That's a great horseshoe!" he said.</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/47925#47925 Answer by drbobmeister for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? drbobmeister 2010-12-01T17:16:04Z 2010-12-01T17:16:04Z <p>Jn the mid 1990s I set up my doctoral dissertation, which was on digital circuit simulation at the anolog level, using nroff and eqn. It took awhile to get the hang of it, but once I did I could work pretty quickly. One of the nice things about the nroff-eqn package was that you could exert very fine control over the typesetting. I've also done a lot of mathematical writing using MSoft Word and its Equation 3.0 package. It has a WYSIWYG interface, which is OK, but its great weakness is that you can't cut/copy and paste to extract pieces of equations for use in others, so you have to re-create symbols from scratch at every occurrence. After these experiences, learning Latex, which I have done since participating in MO, was easy. </p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/47928#47928 Answer by AgCl for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? AgCl 2010-12-01T18:13:41Z 2010-12-01T18:13:41Z <p>"Did they indeed put formulas by hand in the already printed articles?"</p> <p>Here is a page from Richard Feynman's PhD thesis, which he wrote in 1942: </p> <p><img src="http://img146.imageshack.us/img146/7296/screenshot4br.png" alt="alt text"></p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/48178#48178 Answer by Jonathan Kiehlmann for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? Jonathan Kiehlmann 2010-12-03T14:48:30Z 2010-12-03T14:48:30Z <p>The PhD students here got an e-mail last week asking for someone to LaTeX a paper which had been handwritten by an older professor (poss. emeritus.) </p> <p>Additionally, PhD. theses circa 1979 certainly had handwritten $\gamma$s.</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/48214#48214 Answer by Carlo Beenakker for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? Carlo Beenakker 2010-12-03T19:46:37Z 2010-12-03T19:46:37Z <p>here's how Albert Einstein did it: <a href="http://ilorentz.org/history/Einstein_archive/" rel="nofollow">http://ilorentz.org/history/Einstein_archive/</a></p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/102097#102097 Answer by Joe Silverman for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? Joe Silverman 2012-07-13T03:13:20Z 2012-07-13T03:13:20Z <p>I'm feeling old (like Felipe). In 1981 I typed my thesis on an IBM Selectric, typing the text on each page, then reinserting it and using the symbol typeball to fill in the symbols. And as an added handicap, I typed much of it with my daughter on my lap (from age 4 months to 6 months). Luckily, my arms are long, so I could keep her far enough from the keyboard that at worst she occasionally managed to press the space bar.</p> <p>A few years later, my first book was typed by a wonderful technical typist at MIT, after which it was typeset in Hong Kong. I ended up proof reading it (at least) 8 times, twice for the handwritten version, twice for the typed version, twice for the galley proofs, twice for the page proofs. So with 8 proofreadings, after it appeared, there were only about 400 typos (in a 400 page book), some of which I went back and checked, and sure enough, they were there in the original handwritten version. Sigh...</p> <p>I know this thread isn't supposed to be about TeX, but I have to mention what a thrill it was to be able to type my <em>Advanced Topics...</em> book on a MacPlus and have the processed TeX (plain, not LaTeX) appear on my screen in only 10 seconds per page. Quite a change over the years, since now all 500 pages of that book take less than 10 seconds on my laptop.</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/102101#102101 Answer by Peter May for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? Peter May 2012-07-13T03:43:15Z 2012-07-13T03:43:15Z <p>All these young people talking about being old! I paid a secretary through the nose to type my thesis in 1964, doing much of it myself, and using carbon paper to get a copy. Lots of handwritten graphs of spectral sequences. The memory of that horrid process may be one reason I never published my thesis. It is roughly 150 pages of dense calculations. </p> <p>At Chicago in the 1960's and 1970's we had a technical typist who got to the point that he, knowing no mathematics, could and did catch mathematical mistakes just from the look of things. He also considered himself an artist, and it was a real battle to get things the way you and not he wanted them. </p> <p>My collaborators and I published five long Springer Lecture Notes in Mathematics volumes between 1972 and 1986, and all are cluttered with hand written symbols, although the Selectric decreased the number in the last of them. The first of them (in which I introduced operads) is especially painful reading now.</p> <p>Somebody on this thread mentioned translations by non-mathematicians. I could never find it again, but I once read a paper about CW complexes that was translated from a Chinese original. It talked about the $n$th bag of bones.</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/102105#102105 Answer by Lee Mosher for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? Lee Mosher 2012-07-13T04:28:22Z 2012-07-13T04:28:22Z <p>The first draft of my thesis was written out in longhand (1982). The actual thesis was done in a long forgotten early TeX competitor called Scribe (1983), I guess I just hadn't come across TeX yet. It had escape commands for various things. After my thesis the first Macintoshes came out, and I think I wrote a paper or two in MacWrite, and one or two other word processors. </p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/102112#102112 Answer by Liviu Nicolaescu for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? Liviu Nicolaescu 2012-07-13T07:46:30Z 2012-07-13T10:30:06Z <p>I typed my first papers (mid to late 80s) on an Olivetti typewriter. I was and still am a two-finger typist and the whole process was an unmitigated pain. To add to the misery, owning a typewriter in communist Romania was a political liability because one could potentially type and distribute political messages making the recognition of the author a bit harder to achieve than in the case of hand-writing. To prevent this from happening, every year we had to show up at the headquarters of the secret police with the typewriter alongside and type a few lines dictated to us by some employee of that institution. The reason you ask? They were obtaining samples of typed words from each typewriter in use so that in case that one brave owner would type and spread some political manifesto they could trace back the text to the appropriate typewriter. </p> <p>Typing was the easy part. Submitting your paper to a Western journal was a different ball game.</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/102140#102140 Answer by Michael Murray for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? Michael Murray 2012-07-13T13:08:54Z 2012-07-13T13:08:54Z <p>There was, of course, a time when cut and paste meant cut and paste! I don't remember that but I do remember replacing sections of my thesis with sellotape. Another skill we have lost is trying to replace a small whited-out section of text with a word or two conveying the correct meaning but fitting in the gap!</p> <p><a href="http://www.maths.adelaide.edu.au/michael.murray/thesis.pdf" rel="nofollow">My thesis</a> from 1983 was typed by my supervisor's secretary on an IBM golfball with the occasional symbol written in. I didn't start using $\TeX$ until the first Apple LaserWriter. </p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/102163#102163 Answer by Jamie Weigandt for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? Jamie Weigandt 2012-07-13T18:39:03Z 2012-07-13T18:39:03Z <p>Perhaps a good look at the process around 1963 is this unpublished note of Barry Mazur's "<a href="http://www.math.harvard.edu/~mazur/papers/alexander_polynomial.pdf" rel="nofollow">Remarks on the Alexander Polynomial</a>" which has resurfaced recently thanks to another MathOverflow question.</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/102179#102179 Answer by Lubin for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? Lubin 2012-07-13T20:40:15Z 2012-07-13T20:40:15Z <p>I typed my thesis in late Winter 1963, on an IBM Executive in the Bowdoin College Math Dept office after hours. This was before the Bouncing Ball, but it had two or three removable type-bars at the side, and we had a couple of dozen special bars, each with its own character. If you wanted to type “$\alpha\beta$”, you’d have to remove the alpha-stick and attach the beta-stick. I think that there were relatively few characters I had to put in by hand: $\mathfrak{p}$ maybe, and certainly the inclusion symbols. It took me 45 minutes or so per page, and according to the rules at Harvard, there could be no corrections on any page (not even white-out).</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/102200#102200 Answer by Alasdair McAndrew for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? Alasdair McAndrew 2012-07-14T01:50:39Z 2012-07-14T01:50:39Z <p>By the time I did my PhD these LaTeX was well established. I had done my masters several years before, and had that typed up for me (using a "golf-ball" selectric). The diagrams and symbols that the secretary couldn't manage I added by hand at the end. Before that I wrote my honours thesis (which was on ultraproducts, and way way beyond the means of typewriters of the day) by hand.</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/19930/writing-papers-in-pre-latex-era/116360#116360 Answer by Ronnie Brown for Writing papers in pre-LaTeX era? Ronnie Brown 2012-12-14T10:56:16Z 2012-12-14T10:56:16Z <p>Henry Whitehead told me that the key tools for a mathematician were a pencil and erasor ("rubber" in English). </p> <p>I paid for my thesis to be typed on an old Banda system which meant I could produce multiple copies, even if in a horrid shade of purple. It was widely circulated widely in 1961, so that many people knew then about the function space results on the category of Hausdorff k-spaces. </p> <p>My book "Elements of modern topology" (1968) (now "Topology and Groupoids") was written in pencil, and typed on a machine with two keyboards, with a shift by moving a lever. Also I did not have the facilities to produce great figures, so had to pay from royalties for some to be redrawn, when the publisher's draughtsman did not get it quite right. </p> <p>A great change with Latex is indexing. The method for the above book was to go through the page proofs with index cards, noting the term and page number, then sort them all by hand, and finally get the result typed. </p> <p>In those days one knew that printing mathematics would be expensive, because it was all set by hand in monotype, and so maths books, and journals, would be expensive. Now that the typesetting is all done by authors, guess what happens? Maths books and journals are still expensive, but the publishers do well! It is not clear if they have all got onto the advantages for specialised books, such as maths, of Print-on-Demand, which produces a book at a time from a pdf file, so there is little warehousing cost. </p> <p>I heard of one major publisher who retyped in Latex a whole book from a pdf file which was produced by Latex! Guess what happened! </p>