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Re: Future Plans for MCL

This is a letter of support for Macintosh Common LISP. I was disappointed
to read about Apple's plans for MCL. During these times of cutbacks and
transition to new products, I encourage you to continue, indeed increase,
funding and staffing for MCL.

Flavors Technology, Inc. has been using Macintosh Common LISP as our
primary software development environment for several years. We consider it
an excellent programming tool. Our product would have taken several more
man years to develop with other tools, even some other LISP tools on bigger
platforms. The combination of the Mac user environment for our customers,
and the MCL development environment for our developers is unbeatable.

While we don't sell MCL to our customers, we do sell Macs, directly, and
indirectly through the sale of our software. Most of our customers buy Macs
just to run our software, and many are first time Mac buyers - if not as a
company at least on a departmental basis. Our customers are large
manufacturing companies, e.g., GM, Ford, Allied Signal, Yaskawa; and our
users are on the plant floor. We are making many Mac converts. This month,
a major Japanese utility bought our product for a pilot program. They
purchased four Mac Quadra 950s for the evaluation alone, and this deal
could easily lead to the sale of thousands of Macintoshes in Japan.

The Macs we sell are used with our software and our proprietary hardware in
real-time control, monitoring, scheduling, and simulation. The Mac is used
as a development workstation for our users, and as a control and monitoring
display station, often networked. Our systems range from very large, i.e.,
an entire plant, to small experiments. Our showcase installation is GM
Truck and Bus, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, where we control the entire paint shop,
painting a pickup truck every fifty seconds. With our system in place,
trucks from the Ft. Wayne plant were recently ranked number one for fit and
finish in the J.D.Powers survey of new car buyers - a first for GM.

In the past, our hardware component of the system was quite large,
typically in excess of $250,000. Recently we have introduced an entry level
product which sells for under $50,000 and which includes a Mac and our
software. The proprietary hardware component of these smaller systems is
implemented as daughter cards for Radius Rocket accelerators. So the Mac
has become an even larger part of our product. We expect our unit sales
volumes to increase significantly as the smaller product gains acceptance.

As Apple makes the transition to PowerPC we were hoping to make the
transition with you. We were hoping that the MCL compiler and tools would
be ported to the PowerPC and would be available at its introduction. With
MCL in place our transition to PowerPC would be easy. Without MCL, we are
faced with a tough choice. Our decision of what platform to support in the
future will depend on the quality of the development tools available. We
would like to stay with Apple and Macintosh, but not without a quality
Common LISP environment like MCL.

I hope that Apple chooses to continue its support of Common LISP. Flavors
is  heavily invested in Common LISP on the Mac because MCL is a powerful
enabling technology, and as such it sells Macs. Please make MCL a top
priority for the new Mac architectures.


Doug Currie
VP, Engineering (no disclaimer!)
Flavors Technology, Inc.