A comment on the question Why did 8-bit Basic use 40-bit floating point? says the following (emphasis added):

Re, "Nowadays, floating point is usually either 32 or 64 bits." More specifically, floating point is usually IEEE 754 floating point. Pior to the publication of that standard in 1985, it was the Wild West: Pretty much every system had its own internal representation for floating point numbers. I saw a book once that was basically a step-by-step instruction manual for how to construct your own floating point system. It was on the desk of my co-worker who was implementing the floating point arithmetic for a Lisp interpreter.

Some keyword searching turned up only Jean-Michel Muller's Handbook of Floating-Point Arithmetic, which was published in 2009; presumably the comment is discussing something older.

What is this book? It sounds quite interesting.

  • 2
    I suspect it would be more effective to make this a comment on the relevant post; that way you could tag Solomon Slow directly to notify them. Only they can answer the question, others can only guess... Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 11:59
  • 3
    I agree that the right way to find out is by posting a comment over at the original question. This question doesn't have enough information to pin it down. If you are interested in books going back to the 1970s or 1980s, start by researching Don Knuth or Jerry Sussman. Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 12:20
  • 4
    Asking a new question rather than commenting on the existing question is a valid approach. A comment could be added to the other question linking to here, which would ping the original poster.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 14:01
  • 2
    Were the description in the comment a little more detailed, it might as well be someone else who is able to find the book in question. With the one we have, it might be harder, but still not impossible in principle; it might have in fact been a very distinctive book. Commented Feb 21, 2021 at 6:19
  • 3
    As the author of the comment in question, I will repeat here that it was many decades ago. I've lost touch with the person who owned the book, and when I tried to search for something similar a few decades later, I turned up nothing. "The Handbook of Floating Point Arithmetic" cited above looks like it might contain some useful information, but it also looks like more of an academic work--unlike the "how-to" manual from my memory. Commented Feb 21, 2021 at 17:15


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .