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Symb. vs. convention AND new products
One item which is done with hardware and which has not been mentioned in
the most recent round of "what makes a 'bolics so special anyhow" is
dynamic type checking. There is a significant number of prog. lang.
theorists who feel that the bulk of errors in programs are errors in
type and are hence doing research into languages that can be staticly
type checked. Now, there's arguments as to whether dynamic type checking
is as good as static type checking, but someone at Slug '87 (maybe H.
Canon) had a tale about finding bugs in some old, well used C code when
it was brought up on under Symbolics C (which features dynamic type
checking). So I'd say this is a non-religious issue that's an important
As for religion, why are HP, Lucid, Franz, Sun, etc. working like mad to
construct development environments that attempt to emulate the Symbolics
environment (emulate, mind you, none are offering improvements) if this
is not a significant difference. At SLUG '87 a panel including HP and
Lucid folks talked about the environment. The Lucid and HP people both
agreed that the Symbolics environment is far superior.
Speaking about SLUG '87, I didn't see any items here summarizing the
product announcents made there (hope this doesn't bore everyone):
Symbolics C - draft ansi std. and draft ansi std. runtime lib.
integrated into Genera.
ILA-NFS - not a Symbolics product, rather Int'l Lisp Assoc.,
1 Kendall Sq., Cambridge, MA 02139./machine $995/
site 4975/source 2495. (25% to ed. inst.)
Prolog - improved debugging: interactive graphical tracing
Xwindows - is available by anonymous from milo.lcs.mit.edu
80386 Coprocessor - supports ms-dos, unix, vp/ix (ms-dos under unix).
for execution and porting of appl. and numeric applications.
16 Mhz 80386, 1 to 16 Mb on-board RAM, DMA 80386 -> 3600,
hardware compatable with pc/at.
future Ivory products - a year from now a single board upgrade will
be available to make 36xx machines into I-machines - speed
will improve by a factor of 3. Next products (as long as a
year after that) will be a single board to go into other
machines, such as something for PC types, VME add ons, and
there was a picture of a Mac II, but they wouldn't say any-
thing about whether a product would be available for it -
and (of course) an Ivory machine to replace the 36xx line.
Please, no questions to me about this - ask Symbolics.
A note on Symbolics marketing: at Slug '87 a 'bolics marketing type said
"we aren't and are not going to be in the general computing market competing
with DEC, IBM, etc". On reflection, I find this amusing. Perhaps Symbolics
doesn't perceive themselves in the general computing market, but certainly
the general computing market is Symbolics most vigorous competition -
Sun, Dec, HP all compare the performance of their general purpose computers
against Symbolics ... who does Symbolics think they're losing sales to? TI?