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Ok, tell me more ...


Its not often I reply to mail on SLUG or anything else, (in fact this is
my first attempt to do so) but I am very interested in what you had to
say about the Lucid/GNUEmacs/ILisp/CLIM environment. You see I am not a
software programmer as such, but I do use the Symbolics MacI model 3 to
do IC and Board Level electronic designs. I know the Symbolics machine
very well because I was fortunate enough to use it at my previous place
of employment (Analog Devices in Boston).  I also used a DEC 3100 unix
machine for simulations, a Macintosh and IBM PC for documentation and
lab work. When I started my own company the first machine I bought was a
Mac Ivory (and consequently I have access to the macintosh) and the
second machine was an IBM 486/33 PC. We have no UNIX machines. Our company
exists to manufacture electronic test equipment for IC designers to
characterize so called "mixed signal" chips.

My experience is different from yours. I find the Symbolics environment
much "faster" than IBM, Mac or UNIX. The work I do needs documentation,
schematic drawing, Email and some modeling of systems in code. I write
models in LISP. I can sympathize with the Symbolics "worshipers"
because I think I know what they are talking about: its the
"integration" of the whole thing that leverages what we do. UNIX
colleagues of mine talk about integrated tools and how great such and
such a thing is, but I find them hopelessly disjoint.  "Integrated"
seems to mean sharing a common file format and cutting and pasting.

[In the Symbolics environment I can include a simulation result
in a concordia file and when I click on it access the original data. I
can click on a schematic and edit that, I can send a schematic over
Email, in the editor I can initialize some lisp code from the schematic
drawing, I can get the schematic network to "write" a lisp function, and
call that function to simulate it. In the schematic a real editor window
appears to type in notes and similar. All the commands are the same
(meta-. to edit etc)].  

Now I know Windows, for example, says it is integrated. We have Windows
and Windows NT - the code my company writes all runs under windows. We
have hired expert windows programmers. But the reality remains that
these things only asymptotically approach the Symbolics machine
environment. They all fall down because the low level programatic
interfaces differ (my description: - I mean that I can't do what I do on
the LISP machine - put a Word editor in a rectangular region of a
schematic for example - words fail me, but I would hope you programmer
folks know what I mean).

Now, here is why Symbolics will ultimately have to change tactics to
succeed: even though I, as the founder of this company, know that the
Symbolics development environment is the best of all I have seen, and that
LISP is the "natural" language for IC test program development, all out
products will have C++ and not LISP environments. I just do not know how
to deliver a Symbolics, or even a LISP environment, to Joe User. 

So Symbolics stays in the hands of hackers like me who dream in LISP and
do great things but don't buy many machines; and C takes over the rest
of the world, selling very well and becoming the defacto programming
language. It really is a shame.

This is the bottom line: I think you are a guy who should know what I am
talking about. So tell me, that list of products
Lucid/GNUEmacs/ILisp/CLIM, can I really use that to deliver a product
with the Symbolics look/feel/power, or come acceptably close? If it can
then lets stop lamenting the demise of Symbolics and get on with it.
Put me on to the sales folks and I'll get a demo.

Martin Mallinson                                martin@cmt.dialnet.symbolics.com

Crimble Micro Test Inc.                              
5 Tomahawk Drive                                Phone: 508 667 9405
Billerica MA 01821                              Fax:   508 667 0192