|Facebook has its uses. A post by Rob Rausch mentioned something about the rules, and when I asked it turned out all the old versions are (here is the original source). Even google hadn't found them.
So here are all the rules of ultimate from the beginning (original discussion and my 7th edition rules still follow):
0th Edition: 1970
1st Edition: 1970
2nd Edition: 1971-1972
3rd Edition: 1971-1972
4th Edition: 1973
5th Edition: 1975
6th Edition: 1976
7th Edition: 1978
8th Edition: 1982
9th Edition: 1995
10th Edition: 2003
11th Edition: 2010
Rules are here; discussion follows.
While cleaning up a box of old papers this winter I ran across a copy of the 7th edition rules (actually a proposal), which we played by in 1978. The most noteworthy thing about them is how short they are. They are printed on 2 legal size sheets, a good deal shorter than the 10th edition rules.
This was the first copy of the rules I had ever seen. Everyone knew they existed but no one really needed to see them, since all calls relied on spirit and the shared background that everyone had then. As the ultimate community widened this shared ethos naturally thinned, and the codified rules became more important.
There are other interesting things about them as well, some I was aware of and some I wasn't. One I didn't recall was that refs were called for, though it also discussed using the honor system without refs.
A second difference, and one close to my heart, is the stall count. Games were still played to time (2 24-minute stop time halves), and stall count was 15 - but, as it says in the clarifying remarks, "The stalling call should be initiated only when it becomes obvious that a stall is occurring". That is, the rule is there for the sole purpose of stopping a team from letting the clock run out.
Fouls are handled simply: "Any physical contact during the throw is a foul against the defender". It is not written in that contact that does not affect the throw is to be ignored, but it was universally understood to be that way.
There is also no distinction between a foul and a violation, in either case play stops and is restarted in such a way as to approximate the play without the foul.
The story of how I got these rules speaks worlds about the disadvantage of well defined rules. On a very windy day, in a game between two good teams, someone (who shall remain nameless) started taking a full backhand windup, striking his mark on release, and calling a foul, for the purpose of getting a free upwind huck. When questioned he pulled out a copy of the rules he had obtained and showed that "Any physical contact during the throw is a foul against the defender". This was a clear misapplication of the rule. This kind of parsing the rules to look for an edge is one reason I dislike stall count - whatever the merits of it may be, the genesis is someone taking an anachronistic rule, left over from when games were timed, and using it in an unintended way to gain an advantage.
If anyone has access to other old versions of the rules I would be interested in getting a collection so the changes can be tracked.