October 25, 2002
Lisp in Space

A couple months ago Erann Gat finished his personal history of lisp and other languages at JPL and Google (which may be a revised version of a previously noted usenet article).

It's a somewhat tragic story that I find worth reading because

  • It's a short insider's look at the sequence of robots that eventually culminated in the Mars Pathfinder rover.
  • It sketches a not implausible case that but for some unfortunate politics, the Mars Pathfinder rover would have been running lisp instead of C.
  • It mentions my old boss.
  • It mentions the origins of OpenMCL.

On the one hand, JPL has had some big successes since dumping Lisp. On the other, maybe they could have done much more if they hadn't been using languages that make software development almost uniquely difficult and slow. Even another ex-JPLer I know who thinks C++ is too far from the hardware says that JPL projects go sloooooowly.

Posted by jjwiseman at October 25, 2002 12:16 AM
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