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C vs. Lisp, or UNIX vs. Genera, or just US vs. THEM. Cuckoo?
Were it possible to show the duration and extent of the whole
contribution that Lisp Machine technology could make for the good of
mankind, it seems to me that we are now but part of the way through the
potential life. In this I am not just considering technical issues
like software and hence applications implementation but also the new
ideas that are sporned and explored through the vehicle of Lisp Machine
technology as a whole.
Times change, old things die and have to be laid to rest. New adventures
become available. Both technology and people change.
It may be that the era of the Lisp Machine has moved from being a phase
of explosive development of the system itself into a period where what
exists now can be used to great effect. Many artists have studied
pigments, light and form for a long time before their genius fully
blossomed and could be seen through their work.
The Lispm has a lots of good left in it. It's life has hardly begun.
However, the commercial market and the feelings of many people who make
financial decisions are influenced in ways that do not always reflect
the largest good.
There is a massive growth and commitment in Unix/C technology. No bad
thing in itself.
My question to you is, in your move away from the Lisp Machine
(explained by your problems with such things as your experiences with
i/o speed, garbage collection and switching dynamic windows, as well as
your strong attraction to Unix/C) do you wish to have the Lisp Machine
I suspect not.
Sadly however, I fear that the accumulation of such volumes of
denigration (of which yours is just a tiny part) may help bring about
I see two reasons for this. Firstly the mud slingings are not
arbitrated, there is never an evaluation of the truth by a higher and
public judge (for instance there will never be any "proving", to all
parties, of the validity of your argument that Lisp has to create
And secondly, in general people working in the Lisp Machine world seem
not promote themselves (for instance, Flavors weren't touted by us, the
users, from pillar to post throughout the first part of the last decade
(as are more recent efforts to provide alternative tools for OOP)).
The last Lisp Machine source is Symbolics. I for one do not want to
waste time casting aspersions at Unix/C, but I do passionately want the
Genera environment and the brilliant specialist systems on which it runs
to survive. I want them to be available so that much work begun and
other ideas as yet unformed can grow and shine.
I don't know the figures, but the Unix/C market looks like $billions and
the Lispm is but a tiny mote.
Do the Unix/C people have to behave like cuckoos - eradicating
everything else, suffering no alternatives? What in the Lispm threatens
them - it is certainly not commercial pressure?