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Remember Symbolics Genera 7.0

   Date: Fri, 18 Jan 91 18:23:06 -0500
   From: odell@bu-it.bu.edu

   Yeah I do! Many people have argued that a large
   amount of whats wrong with the Lisp market is
   exemplified by that disaster.

   I know several large programming shops that 
   never converted to 7.0 and in fact turned
   off their machines because of it.

   Jim O'Dell

Improved understanding of how to solve problems provide a plethora
of problems for vendors and customers. It's been a while, but I believe
7.0 introduced common lisp, new flavors, and dynamic windows (as well
as other things I'm sure). Each of these, in my opinion improved the
programmer's ability to generate better, cleaner, and clearer code
and applications. I, at the time, was maintaining and developing a
fairly major, multiperson program, which even then already
had code three or four years old. 7.0 was a major dilemma for us. 
Initially we did the minimum to get back up in 7.0 (minimum changes,
use zl package, no new flavors, no dynamic windows). After getting back
up we slowly converted, and all new additions began to use new flavors
cl and dynamic windows. For all of this we had large human capital costs
in learning the new stuff (especially dynamic windows - which in 7.0
were buggy and slow - fixed by 7.2). Symbolics did provide conversion
tools, but the big cost is in bending your understanding around what
the new technology buys you.

The good news is that in the end we reaped major benefits, especially
from dynamic windows in being able to build excellent interfaces
(help, mouse-line documentation, sensitivity, command completion ---
all essentially for free). I think all three of these additions
were major improvements, but they came with a good bit of pain.

In many segments of the computer community, companies are essentially
frozen into ancient programs written using ancient technology. As we 
have seen in manufacturing, this may not be a successful longterm
economic strategy. As technology improves, you can move with it,
or your competitors will. 

other-directed. adj. Directed or guided chiefly by external standards
                     as opposed to one's own standards or values.
                     cf. Article on a Texas rancher in this week's
                     "New Yorker"