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CVS has a wiki manual available, which seems to be the best reference.

Getting old files from CVS

To extract a single copy of an old file from CVS, use the following command in the CVS controlled directory:

cvs up -p -r 1.1  filename.cpp > ~/filename-old.cpp
  • The -p option tells CVS to output the file on the standard output stream, instead of attempting to overwrite the old file.
  • The -r option specifies the revision to use, in this case 1.1

Removing sticky tags

To remove all tags from a file:

cvs up -A