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It seems to me that a good bit of the recent argument about the
affordability of symbolics' consists of people talking past each
other. In particular, it seemed to me that some of the anti-symbolics
noise was coming from the academic environment, and a lot of the
staunch defending was coming from the business environment.
It may well be that symbolics' are affordable for businesses. I'd
just like to jump on the bandwagon from the academic end, and say that
we at Brown are finding them to be too expensive, even just to keep
running. And, of course, this is a phenomenon that feeds back onto
itself: because the machines are perceived as obsolete and unreliable
(if they break, we unplug them), no one is bothering to learn to use
the environment. On the other hand, Sun has given us great terms on a
lot of sparcstations.
One concern I'd like to raise is the following: I can understand that
Symbolics can't afford to offer the same incentives as Sun. But I'm
concerned about what happens to Symbolics when there are no longer
people coming out of universities who are in love with lisp machines.
Anyone care to comment?