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The TeX community (or TeX in general) lacks visibility to the
public eye. This was due in part to the unavailability of
merchandising: Till 1998 there were no t-shirts, mugs, pencils etc.
easily available; they didn't even exist (if you don't go to a TeX
conference you might never see a TeX t-shirt). The Linux and BSD
communities have their mascots (the penguin and the daemon, see below) and have plush dolls of them--we have TeX and
Meta--but had no plush dolls or anything.
We want to make merchandising to get some nice things, make some money for the user groups and raise the public awareness of TeX.
Read the original announcement
We are working or thinking of these projects:
Of all items sold a obulus goes to the TeX Merchandising Fund (administered by DANTE), which will be used to provide further merchandising items and to support TeX projects.
TeX is a trademark of the American Mathematical Society (AMS).
METAFONT is a trademark of Addison Wesley Longman (AWL).
Computers & Typesetting is a series by Donald E. Knuth, published by AMS and AWL with drawings by Duane Bibby.
The text of these books is copyright by AMS, the drawings are copyright AWL.
I have the permission from AWL to use the drawings from the books as long as the money goes to TeX user groups. I've got an agreement with Duane Bibby.
If you want to help us or get news about the TeX Merchandising Project you can join the mailing lists for this project.
This project is an independent working group. The user groups are welcome to participate (and maybe needed to finance and distribute the merchandise), but the idea of TeX merchandising should not be associated with one user group.
Currently the project is the effort of Martin Schröder; I can be reached at email@example.com.