Wed Jun 28 06:46:29 EDT 2023


This page is a placeholder for material related to the
second edition of The AWK Programming Language.
The first edition was written by Al Aho, Brian Kernighan and Peter Weinberger
in 1988. Awk has evolved since then, there are multiple implementations,
and of course the computing world has changed enormously. The new
edition of the Awk book reflects some of those changes.

The book will be available by the end of September. In the
meantime, we will add material that we hope will be of interest —
historical documents, bits of code, and occasional essays on Awk and
related topics.

Awk Source and Documentation

Awk source is maintained at

Gawk releases are at

the Gawk manual is

Arnold Robbins has compiled a list of

other implementations
of Awk.

Historical Documents

The citations in the original Awk book have by now become quite dusty,
but some of the material is still interesting and potentially useful.
Here are references to some of the documents, perhaps updated.

    AWK – A Pattern Scanning and Processing Language,
    the original Awk paper from Software Practice and Experience, 1979.

    CSTR 118:

    An internal technical report on Awk, dated June 1985, so it’s not the
    original language but more or less the one described in the Awk book
    in 1988.

    Dformat is an Awk program, originally written by Jon Bentley,
    for drawing data-format diagrams.
    The version here comes from Arnold Robbins (to whom thanks),
    who has fixed it up and made it work properly in today’s environments.


    Chem was an experiment in little languages, a language for describing chemical
    structure diagrams. (Think benzene rings on steroids.) It wasn’t much used
    but it was a good exercise.

    The link above is to a somewhat blurry but complete PDF of the original chem paper
    by Bentley, Lynn Jelinski and bwk, published in Computational Chemistry in

    indexing programs:

    One of the examples in the original Awk book was a simplified version of indexing tools
    first created by Jon Bentley, and used both for both editions of the book. The link
    above provides the code; the paper published in
    Electronic Publishing — Origination Dissemination and Design in 1988
    is temporarily unavailable.

    Algorithm animation:
    by Jon Bentley and bwk.
    The paper A System for Algorithm Animation (1991) describes a
    system for embedding simple graphics commands in program output that
    could be used to display an “animated” version of the output. It all
    worked on monochrome displays, so it’s totally dated now, but it was
    neat at the time. The original Computing Science Technical Report (CSTR) 132 is

    Netlib’s typesetting collection
    Includes some links to chem and indexing programs

    Interview with Al Aho
    about Awk in Computerworld, May 2008

    Interview with Brian Kernighan about Awk and AMPL, Computerworld, October 2009

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