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historical tidbit

Happy new year to everyone, and welcome back to math-font-discuss!
Let me start this year with an interesting historical tidbit.  

A few days ago, I happened to find the following message in an archive
of the TEX-CHAR mailing list at ftp.math.utah.edu.  It appears that
this mailing list wasn't really a success since 95% of all traffic
are control messages dealing with subscription renewals and such.

Anyway, among all this dull stuff I found an announcement from Barbara
which might well be the first recorded message on the topic of new
math fonts that ultimately lead towards our current working group.
Interestingly, the mail archive file does not contain any follow-ups
nor does the message contain any LISTSERV headers indicating that it
was actually tansmitted on TEX-CHAR, so one might ask whether it ended
up in this archive by mistake and, more importantly, what has become
of it.  If anyone happens to find anything, please let us all know.

Cheers, Ulrik.

P.S.  Of course, it is most interesting to note that Barbara claimed
back then in 1991 that she would be allowed adequate time to do the
job properly [herself].  It seems she must have been overly optimistic.

> From "bbeeton <BNB@MATH.AMS.COM>" Tue Aug  6 13:11:48 1991
> Return-Path: <BNB@MATH.AMS.COM>
> Received: from MATH.AMS.COM by math.utah.edu (4.1/SMI-4.1-utah-csc-server)
> 	id AA06011; Tue, 6 Aug 91 13:11:45 MDT
> Date: Tue 6 Aug 91 15:11:59-EST
> From: bbeeton <BNB@MATH.AMS.COM>
> Subject: 256-character math fonts
> To: mike@inrs-telecom.uquebec.ca, norbert_schwarz@rz.uni-bochum.dbp.de,
>         Schoepf@sc.ZIB-Berlin.de, karl@cs.umb.edu, beebe@csc-sun.math.utah.edu,
>         jmr@nada.kth.se
> Message-Id: <681505919.0.BNB@MATH.AMS.COM>
> Mail-System-Version: <VAX-MM(229)+TOPSLIB(132)+PONY(256)@MATH.AMS.COM>

i'm working now on constructing (a) 256-character math font(s)
to be used with the 256-character dc* font agreed on in cork.
this is an official ams project, which means i will be allowed
adequate time to do the job properly.

before i get too enmeshed in the details, i'd like to check with
people who may have already started similar work to make sure we
won't be duplicating effort.  i'd also like to check that the
basic principles i'm following are acceptable to all the same
group, plus a few other interested individuals.

attached is the statement of the assumptions i'm making.  if
anyone has any comments, suggestions, complaints, etc., please
let me know right away.  please also let me know if i've left
anyone off the list of people who should be asked.  thanks.
						-- bb


Assumptions underlying design of 256-character math symbol fonts.

1. It is desirable that The TeXbook continue to be an authoritative
   reference insofar as possible.  In particular, the following
   should remain valid:
    - control sequence names of symbols, Chapters 16-17, Appendix F,

   Changes in the following are unavoidable, and a supplementary
   reference will have to be written to provide the information:
    - values of \mathchardef and similar assignments, Appendix B
    - the font charts, Appendix F

2. All symbols provided by the present fonts cmr*, cmmi*, cmsy*
   and cmex* will be included in the new scheme.

   Where space permits, other sources of symbols to be considered
   include lasy*, wasy*, msam* and msbm*.

3. The font(s) should be readily usable by all TeX users, whether
   they write their own macros based on plain.tex, use LaTeX with
   or without the new font selection scheme, or rely on some other

   This does not imply that no changes will be necessary.
   It {\em does} mean that use of (for example) the new font
   selection scheme will not be assumed or required.

4. The proposed math symbol font(s) will be accompanied by a
   proposal for revising plain.tex (under some new name).  The
   goal of the plain revision will be to keep changes in the user
   syntax to an absolute minimum, and to retain as much backward
   compatibility as possible.