October 03, 2005
MIT CADR Source Snapshot Released

After 25 years, MIT has finally released the CADR Lisp Machine source code [via Bill Clementson].

Ben Hyde: “I actually doubt that history would have unfolded very differently if MIT had relinquished the license back in 1980 rather than in 2005; but it’s a debatable point.” The CADR code has historical importance for Lispers and maybe for Open Sourcers, and I love the idea that code archaeologists have a new, significant body of sophisticated software to examine, but I worry that the Lisp community's fascination with the past is mostly pathology at this point.

Posted by jjwiseman at October 03, 2005 08:03 AM

Stallman's belief, as described in http://www.gnu.org/gnu/rms-lisp.html was that Lisp implementations on stock hardware would inevitably be either slow or unstable, so his time would be better spent on C. (The other reason, as he has described elsewhere, was that more people wanted to use Unix than wanted to use Lisp.) Eventually Lucid, CMUCL, Shivers, and the rest of the Scheme guys proved him wrong in theory, but it's taken until almost now to prove him wrong in practice. In that talk, he talks about struggling to get elisp to run in one megabyte.

Still, though, from 1984 to 1994 or so, development of GNU was handled by a relatively small number of people, who mostly had access to powerful enough machines to make Lisp practical. I wonder if a GNU system based on CADR would have been adopted?

Posted by: Kragen Sitaker on October 10, 2005 07:15 PM
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