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I'd like to explain why I posted the complaints that I did.
I have been trying for quite some time to convince people
that we should be enhancing our symbolics machines--in fact,
I think we should be buying new ones. However, it has not been
easy. There is a built-in bias against "specialized hardware"
and past performance by Symbolics Corp. has not helped this.
Add to this the high initial and continuing costs of ownership
and the thought of a "true multi-purpose machine" like a Sun
or Dec is made even more appealing. Finally, when it appears
that the manufacturer of these specialized machines is not very
responsive, well, it's a large step back.
Concerning the "multi-purpose alternatives," SPE is not Genera,
there's no question of that. However, especially with Lucid 3.0,
which has much improved gc, a nice c interface, and good graphics
support, and a Sun Sparcstation 330 is indeed a viable alternative.
No, it's not as good as a Symbolics, but it is cheaper and the
maintenance costs are substantially less. Another alternative includes
Allegro CL with their new Composer, which runs under x-windows and
offers lots of interesting development tools. Although SPE only
runs on Suns right now, Allegro and Lucid run on just about any
Unix box. Some of these that I think would make decent LISP
platforms include the new Decstation 3100 and the HP 9000 (the
last I heard, HP's maintenance costs were only 2% of the list price).
So why buy Symbolics machines? Well, they're still the best for
LISP development, and I guess excellence costs. But the Symbolics
machine is very much a niche product, and the competition, in the
form of both other LISPMs and Unix boxes, is getting substantially
better all the time. In my opinion, if Symbolics wants to continue
selling to industry, where there is a mandate for both excellence
and reliability, they must augment their excellence with extremely
good customer relations. And that won't happen when they don't
respond promptly, even to small requests.