February 07, 2002
Lisp Porn

lemonodor is pleased to announce its new revenue model.

Er wait, no. Actually Rainer Joswig was showing everyone in #lisp why people get excited (worked up, even) about MCL by posting a series of what he called "MCL porn", screen shots of slick-looking MCL applications. Bring on the lickable interfaces!

Here's Noteheads' Igor Engraver:

Igor Engraver

The MCL IDE, including editing windows, listeners, class browsers, the interface designer, and CLIM (and check out that cinema display!):

MCL IDE editors and listeners CLIM class browser

Making music with MCL:

making music

The original Dylan programming environment from Apple was an MCL application, as was Apple's SK8 multimedia programming environment (remember when Apple had an Advanced Technology Group?):

Dylan SK8 SK8

Then came something that made my week.

Rainer said "Here is the coolest lisp screenshot I have ever seen. It is a space shuttle simulator, with 3D graphics, speech recognition, and agent technology." And then he pasted a screenshot of the AERCam simulator that I worked on at Neodesic! He doesn't know me and he certainly didn't know I was on IRC; he must have grabbed that screenshot from an old site of mine years ago.

That was so cool.


Here's my old, rudimentary AERCam page (please excuse the chunky graphics; it was 1997, after all). It was a cool system, and at i/net we're still working on the same underlying natural language/robotics control system, DPMA.

[All images courtesy Rainer Joswig; Thanks Rainer.]

Posted by jjwiseman at February 07, 2002 11:57 PM

what ever happened to sk8? i had a sneaking suspicion someone had resuructed it from the ATG ashes, but all i could google was this...
"SK8 is a large project at Apple written in MCL. It is no longer being worked on. Instead, Apple is giving away the source code. Go figure."

Posted by: insect on June 13, 2002 03:35 PM

Sk8 is available in source from the archives at Apple. I just took it and ported it for myself to the latest MCL. When I have some time (during some holidays...), I may port it to the carbonized MCL.

Posted by: Rainer Joswig on June 14, 2002 12:57 AM

found it, thanks Rainer. ftp://ftp.apple.com/research/sk8

Posted by: insect on June 17, 2002 06:14 AM

Wow, nice to know SK8 is still alive. I was one of the original two developers on the project. We did that in around 1988, if I recall. I stil remember when we first got it running on the "wicked fast" Macintosh IIFX. I'd love to know if someone has ported that to the latest Mac hardware...

Posted by: David Vronay on August 30, 2002 11:44 PM

Well, it is not really alive for any reasonable definition of "alive" ;-). I ported the published Sk8 sources to the latest available Macintosh Common Lisp (MCL 4.3.1, which btw. costs just $95!). It runs on my PowerMac G4 under System 9.something. I'm not really using it actively right now, but with some spare time, coming winter I might port it for myself to MCL 4.4 on Mac OS X. Otherwise Sk8 is mostly forgotten and possibly I'm the only one who has ever tried to compile/run it with a newer MCL.

David, do you think anybody is using it still or even interested in it?

Posted by: Rainer Joswig on August 31, 2002 02:18 AM

Sk8 is/was a tool for developing multimedia development tools. Kind of a meta-tool.

It has been developed by Apple's Advanced Technology Group in Common Lisp.

It was never a real product. It reached some kind of experimental status. After the ATG was closed, Apple released the source code to the public. It depends heavily on MCL under OS9.

Read more about it:


Posted by: Rainer Joswig on March 28, 2003 11:24 AM

Since this is the only place I can find reference to Igor Engraver and OS X, does anyone who reads this know when it should be available? NoteHeads' website gives no indication (though I seem to remember that it once did).

Posted by: Thom Goodsell on March 29, 2003 10:20 AM


If you have ported SK8 to OS9 (or OSX), please let me know where I may download it from.

I started SK8 at Apple in 1987.

Thank you,

Posted by: Ruben Kleiman on April 18, 2003 11:58 AM


I tried to answer your mail, but it bounced.

The port was kind of a rough proof of concept. It is not available for download - if you are really interested, I would have to find the sources in my archives and send you a copy.


Posted by: Rainer Joswig on April 19, 2003 11:55 AM

is sk8 available for PC ? or just MAc ?

Posted by: jasz on July 1, 2003 11:46 AM

I downloaded the sources from apple and/or digitools a number
of years ago, in 1999. Talked to Ruben a bunch about porting
and also the folks at digitalk. If you have it working on the
newest MCL, please post the code/package. SK8 is about
the coolest thing I remember about the 90s and macs. I would
love to see it running on OSX even in carbon form.

Posted by: Todd Nathan on December 19, 2004 01:18 AM

is sk8 available for PC ? or just MAc ?

Posted by: eBay on June 19, 2005 01:21 PM

I'm also one of the original SK8 developers. I never tried to ressurect the code after we were disbanded, but now I'm working on a Mac again, MCL is free, and OSX is cool and powerful...

The version I have is a CD labeled SK8 .9 beta three. I think what we put on the ftp site when we shut down was a bit newer than that. If anyone has a copy I would be interested.

Posted by: Sidney markowitz on April 9, 2006 01:44 PM
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