[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Yes, they are special, but...

>From: Barry Margolin <barmar@think.com>
>Subject: Yes, they are special, but...
>    Date: Fri, 9 Jun 89 09:16 CDT
>    From: ai.gooch@mcc.com (William D. Gooch)
>	...."highly specialized hardware"....
>    I've heard this idea bandied about enough that I suppose I should
>    understand it by now, but - sorry if I'm being dense - I still don't
>    know what it means.  The term "specialized," usually stated as in
>    opposition to "general-purpose," implies that there are things one
>    cannot do on a Symbolics machine which other hardware does support.
>    If you don't mind my asking, what are those things?  
>It's not that Symbolics machines can't do things that other machines
>can, it's that they don't do many common things well....

It's also a problem that Lispms are _perceived_ as special-purpose
hardware, i.e. machines on which you can only run Zetalisp applications,

We're dealing with customers (and in some cases management) whose main line
of arguement is, basically, "why should we shell out 100K for a machine
that will only run this one program.  For a fraction of that we can get a
Sun, and have access to the whole Unix/C world."  Many of these are people,
by and large, who are going to have trouble justifying buying a machine
that won't run Wordstar or MacPaint.  When I was previously employed by
Another Large Company and we brought in the first Lispms, the management
went through the roof; how on earth, they wanted to know are we going to
get these things to time-share?  Whatta ya mean *one* user??

The point is, we're preaching to the choir here.  *We* understand their
value, and so do the people around us (if they're paying any attention).
Nor is all management as benighted as I've made it sound; I know my
supervisors and keepers are going to bat constantly to keep me working on
Lispms and, so far, have done an excellent job.  But there's no doubt that,
if you travel far enough up (and out) the chain, you'll find people who'd
be only to glad to bring in "real" computers at the drop of a hat.

>I love my Lispm, and won't give it up.  It's a great hacker workstation,
>and I love poking around in Genera.  But to be called "general purpose",
>a machine has to perform reasonably at lots of different tasks, and
>these machines don't.

As I said before, as a *development* environment, it's the only game in
town.  But not everyone sees this.  And there are people out there
convinced that if they swap another machine in in front of me, all they are
doing is changing the name on the front of the box.


|    Nichael Lynn Cramer    | As yet a child....           |
|     --  Nichael@BBN.Com   | I LISPed in numbers, for the |
|     --  NCramer@BBN.Com   |   numbers came. --  Pope     |