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Re: The Origin of Blockquote

From: Dan Brickley <danbri@google.com>
Date: Mon, 28 Aug 2017 13:53:34 -0700
Message-ID: <CAK-qy=5s0kz0z4uLCrOEtQmw4309NM-___iSDDwXbiQs18XXmg@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Sean B. Palmer" <sean@miscoranda.com>
Cc: www-talk@w3.org, public-webhistory@w3.org, www-archive <www-archive@w3.org>
Thanks for going to the trouble to preserve this history :)

On 28 Aug 2017 12:57, "Sean B. Palmer" <sean@miscoranda.com> wrote:

> This is a partial log of the IRC channel #swig on irc.freenode.net
> from 2017-08-28, with timestamps in UTC, where Dan Connolly and I
> discuss the origin of the blockquote element in HTML circa December
> 1992. This channel is normally archived and accessible to the public,
> but the logger has not been there since February 2017.
>
> The opening line of the log refers to a comment by DanC that he had
> found his 1991 mail archive from when he was at Convex, in the wider
> context of trying to rediscover more about the origins of HTML.
>
> 18:02:31 <sbp> DanC: what does your 1991 Convex mail contain? can it
> be made public?
> 18:03:44 <DanC_> I copied www-talk on stuff that, at the time, I
> though should be public, and I haven't seen anything where I'd change
> my mind
> 18:04:56 <DanC_> the W3C systems guys sent me all the ,v files.
> 18:06:50 <DanC_> so I have all the versions; unfortunately, when I
> imported my Convex work into the W3C CVS repository in 1994, the
> original dates weren't preserved.
> 18:09:39 <sbp> DanC_: ah, shame. so there's no extra information there
> as to why you invented blockquote? last time we spoke about it, in
> 2013, you thought you might have been inspired by LaTeX. but we could
> only find \begin{quote}, which didn't look to either of us as though
> it was a likely precursor
> 18:15:23 <DanC_> blockquote was added in "The DTD as I originally
> released it." but the date of that rev is goofy
> 18:16:04 <DanC_> around 1st appearance of BLOCKQUOTE in www-talk, we
> were talking about texinfo; does it have blockquote?
> 18:17:05 <sbp> checking
> 18:18:05 <DanC_>
> https://www.gnu.org/software/texinfo/manual/texinfo/html_
> node/Quotations-and-Examples.html#Quotations-and-Examples
> 18:18:07 <DanC_> not exactly
> 18:18:08 <DanC_> • @quotation:         Writing a quotation.
> 18:18:08 <DanC_> • @indentedblock:         Block of text indented on left.
> 18:21:57 <DanC_> hard to imagine I made it up. have you looked at
> linemode browser code?
> 18:22:06 <DanC_> or Mosaic?
> 18:22:47 <sbp> I got
> http://www.mirrorservice.org/pub/slackware/slackware-2.0.0/
> source/ap/texinfo/texinfo-3.1.tar.gz
> ostensibly dated to 1994-07-22 and grepped for -i block and -i quote,
> but nothing obviously relevant came up
> 18:22:49 <DanC_> ooh... nice...
> http://www.ncsa.illinois.edu/enabling/mosaic/versions
> 18:23:21 <sbp> DanC_: I did some analysis of early HTML, yeah. I
> actually compiled a corpus of early HTML pages and then did a plot
> based on element popularities
> 18:23:56 <DanC_> pointer?
> 18:24:02 <sbp> http://infomesh.net/stuff/proto
> 18:24:21 <sbp> (quite old work)
> 18:24:35 <sbp> but I think blockquote postdated the range I was
> looking at, because it doesn't appear
> 18:25:03 <sbp> the earliest references to it that I found remain those
> documented in my 2009 email to you,
> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-archive/2009May/0001.html
> 18:25:26 <sbp> namely,
> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-talk/1992NovDec/0159.html and
> v1.3 of html.dtd
> 18:26:30 <DanC_> wild... looks like
> http://suika.fam.cx/gate/cvs/*checkout*/test/html.dtd  is what I've
> been hunting for
> 18:26:32 <sbp> having said that, you do introduce the idea of
> BLOCKQUOTE with "I'm trying to keep up with all sorts of HTML ideas"
> 18:26:42 <sbp> which does suggest that you were inspired by somebody else
> 18:27:08 <sbp> but to date I have not found any antedating of blockquote
> in HTML
> 18:30:47 <DanC_> 2010 discussion of csquotes and spacing with
> \blockquote{} https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/latexusersgroup/
> hRCzEQItC6Q
> ...
> 18:33:14 <sbp> right, but HTML has had such wide influence that
> anything post-early-1990s is tainted by its popularity. it's most
> likely that any use of the word "blockquote" after then is directly
> inspired by HTML
> 18:33:43 <sbp> (which is why e.g. I want back and looked for
> texinfo-3.1.tar.gz rather than reading the present manual)
> 18:34:32 <sbp> that little check-in that you did to html.dtd on 7th
> Jan 1993 has changed the English language forever! :-)
> 18:35:27 <DanC_> when did Mosaic pick it up?
> 18:35:35 <DanC_> I wonder about MidasWWW...
> 18:35:38 <sbp> good question, investigating
> 18:36:34 <DanC_> MidasWWW Nov 16, 1992 did not have it
> 18:39:51 <DanC_> wow... there are just no other copies of MidasWWW to
> be had... TimBL eventually got pretty good at caching his own copies
> of things, but I wonder at what point
> 18:40:21 <sbp> the oldest release of Mosaic that I can find is
> ftp://ftp.ncsa.uiuc.edu/Mosaic/Windows/Archive/NCSAMosaicV0.6.zip
> (0.6b), which contains WMOSAIC.EXE. when I use strings and grep on it,
> I get various responses for blockquote
> 18:40:31 <sbp> e.g. "BLOCKQUOTE" and "BlockQuote Font"
> 18:40:52 <sbp> according to
> ftp://ftp.ncsa.uiuc.edu/Mosaic/Windows/Archive/MosaicHistory.html that
> was released on 28 Sep 1993
> 18:41:04 <sbp> long after the first mention in www-talk
> 18:41:24 <sbp> indeed, 0.1a was developed in June 1993 so that's too late
> too
> 18:41:53 <DanC_> hmm... I wonder if the next browser added it
> 18:42:02 <DanC_> surely the linemode browser did...
> 18:42:28 DanC_ hopes https://github.com/w3c/libwww goes all the way
> back...
> 18:44:01 <sbp> I've got NextStep 0.16 here dated 1 Feb 1993—that
> should be helpful
> 18:44:22 <sbp> doesn't contain "blockquote"
> 18:44:23 <DanC_> Author: Tim Berners-Lee <timbl@w3.org>  1993-02-03
> 03:52:58
> 18:45:05 <sbp> ah, here we go:
> 18:45:06 <sbp> ./Implementation/DefaultStyles.c:    { &HTStyleAddress,
>  "BlockQuote", "BLOCKQUOTE",
> 18:45:08 <DanC_> gr... what's the git equivalent of hg grep? git grep
> doesn't show versions
> 18:45:12 <sbp> 11 May  1993 ./Implementation/DefaultStyles.c
> 18:45:47 <sbp> SO says "git grep <regexp> $(git rev-list --all)"
> 18:45:54 <sbp> intuitive, eh?
> 18:45:58 <DanC_> oh. of course. obviously.
> 18:48:44 <DanC_> so... what was going on around 7th Jan 1993? I was
> still at Convex near DFW...
> 18:48:47 <sbp> this was from linemode v2.11
> 18:49:02 <sbp> I've tried looking for v2.10 with no success yet, but I
> did find the change log here:
> https://www.w3.org/LineMode/User/Features.html
> 18:49:16 <sbp> and under v2.10 it says, simply, " Millions of things
> which seem to have slipped past this list in versions 2.x to s.09,
> inclduing the rule file, firing off X applications for graphics files,
> etc etc. See the library change list."
> 18:50:19 <sbp> there's also https://www.w3.org/Library/User/History.html
> 18:50:36 <sbp> that mentions, on 11 Dec 1992, "Added <PRE> tag as in
> new HTML spec."
> 18:50:41 <sbp> but nothing about <BLOCKQUOTE>!
> 18:50:57 <DanC_> I was working on FrameMaker support for HTML I think...
> 18:51:06 <DanC_> make FrameMaker MML had BLOCKQUOTE?
> 18:51:11 <DanC_> s/make/maybe/
> 18:51:15 <DanC_>
> http://ksi.cpsc.ucalgary.ca/archives/WWW-TALK/www-talk-
> 1992.messages/161.html
> 18:52:05 <DanC_>
> http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/Frame/fminit2.0/www_and_frame.html
> ...
> 18:53:09 <sbp> links to
> http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/Frame/fminit2.0/mif2html.l which is
> 404orken
> 18:53:31 <sbp> but it's in https://www.w3.org/History/
> 1992/WWW/Frame/fminit2.0/
> 18:53:40 <sbp> i.e.
> https://www.w3.org/History/1992/WWW/Frame/fminit2.0/mif2html.l
> 18:53:48 <DanC_> ew... evil:
> https://www.w3.org/Frame/fminit2.0/www_and_frame.html <-
> https://www.w3.org/Tools/html2things.html is also 404
> 18:54:00 <sbp> only mention of "block" or "quote" is "; quote is short
> for IN, i.e. inch"
> 18:56:24 <sbp> ah, https://www.w3.org/History/1993/WWW/LibHTML/src/
> MIFwriter.c
> 18:56:35 <sbp> this is from 21 Jan 1993 and contains blockquote
> 18:56:57 <sbp> libHTML.a in the same directory is from 29 Jan 1993 and
> also contains blockquote
> 19:00:30 <DanC_> ah... while looking around my Convex mail, I find my
> Mosaic patch for HTML parsing...
> https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-archive/2017Aug/
> att-0005/original_msg.txt
> 19:00:39 <DanC_> not following up on that is one of my great regrets.
> 19:02:55 <DanC_> yes... I was leaving Convex in Jan '93. Turbulent time...
> 19:03:14 <DanC_> had just gotten engaged
> 19:04:47 <ww> why did we stop using uppercase tags?
> 19:07:10 <sbp> ah,
> http://ksi.cpsc.ucalgary.ca/archives/WWW-TALK/www-talk-
> 1993q1.messages/39.html
> mentions blockquote
> 19:07:27 <sbp> but only in the context of the DTD
> 19:07:38 <sbp> and since this is dated 11 Jan...
> 19:07:59 <sbp> it's very close to the 7th Jan check in for blockquote
> 19:09:11 <sbp> timbl mentions BLOCKQUOTE in his reply to you, but he
> doesn't really say anything that gives away its provenance
> 19:09:20 <DanC_> I find MarcA's 1/23/93 announcement of Mosaic 0.5
> (cc'd www-talk; are the archives complete in this respect?)
> 19:10:23 <sbp> Thomas R. Bruce refers to BLOCKQUOTE as "nebulous,
> contemplated" on 12 Apr 1993
> 19:12:46 <sbp> "<blockquote> now supported." says Marc on 4 Jun 1993,
> of Mosaic 1.1
> 19:13:34 <ww> DanC_: your email "HTML todo list" is missing #3...
> 19:13:41 <DanC_> are you using
> http://ksi.cpsc.ucalgary.ca/archives/WWW-TALK/www-talk-1993q1.messages/
> to browse?
> 19:13:45 <sbp> ww: it was always insensitive, I think, and then the
> choice was made in XHTML that lowercase should be used. this bothered
> me at the time because I used uppercase. I don't know why they made
> that decision
> 19:14:00 <sbp> DanC_: nope, I'm using the contents of
> https://www.w3.org/History/1992/www-talk.9301-9306.Z
> 19:14:23 <DanC_> uppercase would have been a crime against humanity:
> it would have cost more RSI. (shift keys are not free)
> 19:14:24 <sbp> then I Googled a substring to find where it was hosted
> somewhere that I could link
> 19:14:45 <aindilis> caps
> 19:14:59 <sbp> also it would have meant various fixed attribute values
> ought to be capitalised too
> 19:15:30 <sbp> (I prefer lowercase now, with the benefit of nearly two
> decades of hindsight)
> 19:16:15 <ww> i always thought the contrast from differing case made
> it easier to read... but maybe you're right...
> 19:16:50 <DanC_> ah... I find email exchanges with Dale Dougherty and
> Terry Allen about docbook; maybe THAT's where I got blockquote?!
> 19:17:05 <sbp> I believe I already checked docbook. I'll look again
> 19:17:18 <DanC_> well, it certainly has it now:
> http://tdg.docbook.org/tdg/4.5/blockquote.html
> 19:17:41 <sbp> there's some early stuff in
> http://piotrkosoft.net/pub/mirrors/ftp.sunet.se/text-
> processing/sgml/Davenport/DOCBOOK/
> 19:18:02 <sbp> HMM!
> http://piotrkosoft.net/pub/mirrors/ftp.sunet.se/text-
> processing/sgml/Davenport/DOCBOOK/docbook1.2.dtd
> has blockquote!
> 19:18:14 <DanC_> date?
> 19:18:28 <sbp> well, it's 14-Mar-1993 but then docbook1.0.dtd has the
> same date so that's suspicious
> 19:18:54 <sbp> and docbook1.0.dtd has the copyright date 1992, and
> also contains blockquote
> 19:19:04 <DanC_> bingo
> 19:19:12 <sbp> mystery solved!
> 19:19:26 <sbp> what was the nature of the thread with Dougherty and
> Allen? does it mention blockquote?
> 19:19:58 <DanC_> "Span attribute of IndexTerm"
> 19:20:02 <DanC_> not so far...
> 19:20:48 <DanC_> well, there's  DocBook DTD 1.1 beta 1/19/93 from Terry
> Allen
> 19:20:54 <DanC_> with blockquote
> 19:21:00 <sbp> the logger here has gone bonk. is it okay if I package
> the logs up from today and send them to www-archive or somewhere else
> appropriate?
> 19:21:45 <sbp> (okay with you too, ww and aindilis? this place is
> normally logged so I assume folks are comfortable, but just in case
> anybody has got used to the logger not being here I figure I should
> check. it hasn't been seen since February)
> 19:22:07 <DanC_> yes, though the logger is out to lunch, the social
> contract remains in tact, at least for me
> 19:22:19 <DanC_> 12/4/92 is the 1st appearance in www-talk, right?
> 19:22:23 <sbp> yep
> 19:22:38 <sbp> in
> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-talk/1992NovDec/0159.html
> 19:22:54 <DanC_> I had been working with the docbook folks since 1991
> (per https://www.w3.org/People/Connolly/events/ )
> 19:23:02 <sbp> in fact it's the first appearance in an HTML context
> overall that I've found so far
> 19:23:51 <DanC_> Terry's message was to docbook@ora.com ; he might have
> archives
> 19:24:16 <DanC_> or Con O'Connel. Or maybe even Norm Walsh, though he
> came along much later, I think
> 19:24:35 <DanC_> ftp://ftp.ora.com/pub/davenport/README.html ...
> 19:24:59 <DanC_> "Davenport Group FTP Archive If you have problems or
> questions, please don't hesitate to contact Norman Walsh
> (norm@ora.com)."
> 19:25:09 <DanC_> yeah; I've got a problem; the archive has gone 404 :)
> 19:25:33 <DanC_> anyway... the social contract to publish
> docbook@ora.com was in place all along, evidently
> 19:25:44 <sbp> ah, I found
> https://tools.oasis-open.org/version-control/browse/wsvn/
> docbook/sgml/1.0/docbk10.zip
> 19:25:55 <sbp> which only contains docbook.dtd
> 19:26:21 <sbp> and is dated 12 Nov 1992 according to the zip metadata
> for the file
> 19:27:22 <sbp> (1.1 is dated 26 Nov 1996, so that's been touched for
> some reason)
> 19:27:55 <DanC_> 12 Nov 1992 <  12/4/92
> 19:28:04 <DanC_> anyway... the evidence seems to be piling up
> 19:29:19 <DanC_> grr... https://lists.oasis-open.org/archives/docbook/
> only goes back to 199910
> 19:29:47 <DanC_> so... 2009... we solved the riddle in under a decade!
> 19:29:48 <DanC_> ;-)
> 19:31:37 <DanC_> do we have my  "HTML DTD issues"  msg of 11/19/92 to
> www-talk?
> 19:31:38 <DanC_> 5. What about <HP1> thru <HP5>... should we include them?
> 19:31:38 <DanC_> I'd prefer <em>, <tt>, <cite>, ala TeX. Or we could
> 19:31:38 <DanC_> go with the O'Reilly/Hal DocBook tags:
> 19:31:38 <DanC_> <Emphasis>, <OopsChar>, <wordasword>,<CiteBook>,<
> Subscript>,
> 19:31:38 <DanC_> <Superscript>.
> 19:32:49 <DanC_> yes...
> https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-talk/1992NovDec/0068.html
> 19:33:10 <DanC_> that establishes that docbook tags were candidates for
> HTML
> 19:35:31 <DanC_> another shar archive 11/23/92 ... this time to TimBL
> for the nextstep browser.
> 19:35:41 <DanC_> remind me to publish that one
> 19:40:13 <sbp> ah, that's interesting. and it's a week after the first
> docbook DTD
> 19:40:24 <sbp> did you inspire them to write and maintain a DTD, as
> you did with HTML?
> 19:41:57 <sbp> the first HTML DTD was written on 2 Jun 1992, and
> documented in https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-talk/1992MayJun/
> 0020.html
> 19:43:37 <DanC_> no, the docbook folks were SGML before I was
>
> --
> Sean B. Palmer, http://inamidst.com/sbp/
>
>
Received on Monday, 28 August 2017 20:53:59 UTC

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