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[lieber@media.mit.edu: Future Plans for MCL]

Date: Fri, 18 Feb 94 16:25:47 -0500
From: Henry Lieberman <lieber@media.mit.edu>
To: rick_fleischman@powertalk.apple.com
In-Reply-To: "Rick Fleischman"'s message of 18 Feb 1994 12:11:26 -0800 <9402182012.AA01054@federal-excess.apple.com>
Subject: Future Plans for MCL

Dear Mr. Fleischman,

I'm saddened to learn that Apple is not agressively committed to 
future development of MCL and a native PowerPC implementation. 
I think you're making a big mistake. 

At the MIT Media Lab, we have been active MCL users since its
appearance as Coral Common Lisp, and it is vital to a growing segment
of projects in artificial intelligence and advanced interactive
interfaces. MCL is used as the major platform for our projects in
intelligent multimedia tools, computer music and interactive
performance, speech research, and an Apple-funded project to develop
intelligence interface agents.

While the Media Lab, academics in general, and industrial research
labs who represent much of the current constituency of MCL may not at
first appear to be a "large market segment", their importance should
not be underestimated. It is from this segment that prototypes of
future applications, and education for future applications developers
emerges. During demonstrations of my research applications, VIP
visitors from the Media Lab's 60 sponsors and other organizations
often ask, as John Sculley did when he was here, "What's this written
in?", and the answer often elicits some surprise. We teach courses
that train many future innovators, and our use of MCL later influences
choice of the Macintosh as a platform for future projects in our
sponsors and employers of our students, even if MCL is not used in final
deployed versions.  

The community of artificial intelligence and interactive graphics
researchers is now at a crossroads. Future advanced interfaces will
have to have both good graphical interfaces, and some representation,
reasoning and learning capability. We desparately need an integrated
environment which simultaneously provides a good interactive dynamic
development environment and smoothly integrated access to interactive
graphics. The Unix and IBM PC-compatible worlds are so backward and
balkanized on user interface and programming environment issues that
this community simply has nowhere else to go. MCL is a lifeline.

MCL users and reviews in the trade magazines have been, without
exception, enthusiastic about the environment. We have been
disappointed that Apple has not been aggressive in advertising and
marketing it, almost hiding it in the obscure domain of APDA. We
suggest that if Apple took more interest in promoting it, its sales might
better reflect its popularity with its current users. 

While we are awaiting the results of the Dylan project with much interest, 
and wish it the best of success, we would like to stress that Dylan in no
way diminishes our desire to see continued support and development for MCL.
Dylan has attractive aspects, but it is not a replacement for MCL. 
Dylan will be useful for efficiency-critical applications, but for large, 
prototyping applications that need access to a wide variety of facilities,
and the community of Common Lisp, MCL is irreplaceable. 

We hope that you would reconsider your decision, or succeed in finding
development partners who can carry forward this work. 

Henry Lieberman

Research Scientist
Media Laboratory
Massachusetts Institute of Technology