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recent argument

Received: from THOMAS.LAAC-AI.Dialnet.Symbolics.COM by ALAN.LAAC-AI.Dialnet.Symbolics.COM via CHAOS with CHAOS-MAIL id 12261; Fri 22-Dec-89 11:52:37 PST
Date: Fri, 22 Dec 89 11:52 PST
From: Robert D. Pfeiffer <RDP@ALAN.LAAC-AI.Dialnet.Symbolics.COM>
Subject: recent argument
To: SLUG@ALAN.LAAC-AI.Dialnet.Symbolics.COM
In-Reply-To: <8912221758.AA10892@harley.cs.brown.edu>
Message-ID: <19891222195214.1.RDP@THOMAS.LAAC-AI.Dialnet.Symbolics.COM>

    Date: Fri, 22 Dec 89 12:58:57 EST
    From: rpg@cs.brown.edu

    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.  

I would tend to agree with this from what I've seen as well.  Working
here at Lockheed, the actual prices of Symbolics products is mostly
paperwork.  I think it has become obvious to anyone who matters in
approving purchases that the software engineering productivity that
we're able to achieve with Symbolics clearly justifies its use.

    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?


I think that the issue you raise about Symbolics not maintaining a
presence in the university environment is probably the most troubling of
the whole past conversation.  (As to whether Symbolics should market
itself as a hardware or software company, I'll simply agree with an
earlier respondent that the issue is very complicated and leave it at

I would like to observe that their marketing focus does seem much
improved (to me, anyway).  One example I would cite is that fact that,
now that the "mainstream software market" (whatever that is) is touting
the virtues of "object-oriented programming" (whatever that is),
Symbolics is delivering the message that they're object-oriented and
always have been.  In fact, I think they could very credibly claim that
they market object-oriented hardware as well.

Happy holidays to all SLUGers and best wishes for renewed prosperity to
Symbolics in the coming decade,

Bob Pfeiffer