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LispM Market Share
I believe that the only reason two guys can hack and maintain a 6 megabyte
lisp-based AI system is power of the lisp machine development environment.
This task seems hopelessly intractable in the ``MAClisp model of lisp'' whose
current rendition is Lucid running under UNIX, and even more remote hacking in
C. I imagine that anybody else with a large lisp system would
quickly come to the same conclusion.
If the lisp machine is the best program development environment available
today, why isn't it more popular?
Here are some hypotheses that come to mind:
1- nobody implements large software systems;
2- LispMs are too expensive (everybody secretly desires one but can't
justify the money);
3- LispMs are too slow for numerical computations -- which is what the
real world does;
4- LispM market share directly measures distribution of intelligence in
the computer industry (all competent lisp developers have lispMs. The
market is saturated);
5- Lack of market share is self-reinforcing for many reasons;
6- The long learning curve is a barrier to entry (kiss of death?);
7- The LispM development environment is twenty years ahead of the
market, and will be the obsolete industry standard of 2000.
8- LispMs are too expensive for universities, which are turning to
Lisp in Unix environments.
9- The university supply of programmers and the choice of operating
systems are self-reinforcing;
10- Symbolics management failed to market the LispM broadly enough in
1985 and 1986 and assure market share in the workstation market;
11- Lack of market share reinforces lack of software applications.
If there are people and applications out there that really should have LispMs,
perhaps lowering unit price will increase sales and market share. Perhaps,
tweaking retail prices (and performance) to optimize total revenue and market
share would be a better model than high unit price/low volume and market
I would be interested in hearing people's reactions to these thoughts, including
ideas omitted or misrepresented.