Microsoft: Boiling Frogs Since 1975
Posted Apr 17, 2012 21:59 UTC (Tue) by anselm
In reply to: Microsoft: Boiling Frogs Since 1975
Parent article: Paoli: Microsoft will engage with the open source and standards communities
I'm pretty sure Knuth knows limitations of TeX better then me. It was basically unusable on 72dpi printer.
The problem, if there was one at all, wasn't one with TeX – it is really that the Computer Modern fonts (at the time essentially the only game in town) don't look their best on low-resolution output devices, and as far as CM is concerned, 600 dpi is »low resolution«.
TeX itself was perfectly capable of producing good-looking output even on 72dpi printers (I think you mean 9-pin dot matrix printers), within the limits of the device, if you were willing to wait for the output. It was also possible to adapt Knuth's line breaking/spacing algorithm from TeX to optimise output on dot matrix printers using the built-in fonts at text-printing speed (the relevant paper was published in Software Practice & Experience, I forget the correct citation); I spent quite a lot of time playing with this, way back then, and always wondered why the word processor people wouldn't pick this up.
The popularity (or not) of TeX is a non-issue here; you claimed that it was impossible to produce good-looking output on a low-res device without tying one's software to that device, and I cited TeX as a counter-example. A single counter-example disproves »impossible«. I win.
Which ones do you have in mind?
In the late '80s I (like many other students at my university) used an Atari ST, and people would always prepare documents at home and print them at the university because the laser printers there were a lot more convenient than the dinky dot matrix printers they had at home. I don't recall people complaining that Signum or StarWriter (the great-great-grandfather of today's LibreOffice) would mess up the formatting when a file was moved from one computer to the other. By that time I was a TeX user, anyway, so it was a non-issue for me. But even earlier on the Apple II it made no difference whether you printed stuff on an Epson FX-80 or a Centronics 737 (which were the two printers I was using at the time); they would look subtly different because the built-in fonts were different, but the spacing, page breaks, etc. would of course be identical – which is something that Word apparently hasn't nailed in 2012.
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