Is LISP dying?

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Andrew Cooke

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Jul 10, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/10/99
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Hi,

Apologies for the attention grabbing title.

I'm from the UK, and self-taught as a software engineer - which
means that I've used a lot of C and Java, but have only used more
"academic" :-) languages in my spare time and, even if I had done
comp-sci, would have met Prolog and/or ML rather than Lisp.

Despite all that, I've recently decided to learn Lisp because it seems
to be one of the few languages that lets you use whatever
programming paradigm you choose, rather than forcing you in one
direction. I've ordered (and, today, received) Norvig's book on AI
which looks fascinating (I realise it may be out-of date in that it
doesn't contain "modern" AI, but it still seems like a nice book).

However - and forgive the preceding biography but it is intended to set
the ground and show this isn't flame-bait - I get the impression that
Lisp is on the way out. Now this is only a vague impression (more so
because, being in the UK which, whether we like it or not, is in Europe,
Lisp was never "in" here) - but with Harlequin going belly-up it seems
legitimate to ask: is Lisp a dying language?

If so, what is it's current level of use? And what next? Dylan?!
ML?!!! C++?!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It strikes me as a unique and very powerful
language, so what went wrong?

By "dying" I mean in decline, I would guess it's still used more than
any other "second league" language (anything other than C, C++ and maybe
Java) - but for how long?

As I hope is obvious, I would be happy to be corrected!

Thanks,
Andrew

http://www.andrewcooke.free-online.co.uk/index.html


Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
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Craig Brozefsky

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Jul 10, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/10/99
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Andrew Cooke <and...@andrewcooke.free-online.co.uk> writes:

> However - and forgive the preceding biography but it is intended to set
> the ground and show this isn't flame-bait - I get the impression that
> Lisp is on the way out. Now this is only a vague impression (more so
> because, being in the UK which, whether we like it or not, is in Europe,
> Lisp was never "in" here) - but with Harlequin going belly-up it seems
> legitimate to ask: is Lisp a dying language?

It's one of the oldest languages still in active use. Many
organizations and individuals are still using it. There are several
free implementations, including one in the public domain that is rather
good, and still several commercial vendors.

So, it has more commercial implementations than perl, python, and tcl,
put together. It's an ANSI standard (CommonLisp that is). It has
more free implementations than just about any other language except
scheme (a member of the Lisp family itself).

--
Craig Brozefsky <cr...@red-bean.com>
Free Scheme/Lisp Software http://www.red-bean.com/~craig
I say woe unto those who are wise in their own eyes, and yet
imprudent in 'dem outside -Sizzla

Lyman S. Taylor

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Jul 10, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/10/99
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Andrew Cooke wrote:
...

> direction. I've ordered (and, today, received) Norvig's book on AI
> which looks fascinating (I realise it may be out-of date in that it
> doesn't contain "modern" AI, but it still seems like a nice book).

It is a good book. Time will not cause that become untrue, just give it
more cohorts.


> Lisp is on the way out. Now this is only a vague impression (more so
> because, being in the UK which, whether we like it or not, is in Europe,
> Lisp was never "in" here) - but with Harlequin going belly-up it seems
> legitimate to ask: is Lisp a dying language?

My impression is that there a plethora of factors involved in Harlequin going "belly-up".
[ I'd label it as being in intensive care, a number of people recover
from being on the critical list. That isn't quite the same as being
in the morgue.]
"Lisp", "ML", and "Dylan", the languages, in and of themselves weren't the major cause of
these problems for Harlequin. Harlequin also had an "experimental" corportate
structure, for their relative size, which I surmise was also a factor.

There are dozens of ways to run your company out of business that have nothing
to do with whether you are providing a product/service that is viable.
The "lisp business" isn't a license to print money so if you stumble across one
of the dozen you may trip and fall.

Everyone keeps pointing the figure at the Language business. I get the impression
that the margins shrank, perhaps quickly, on the printing side of house too.
( there were likely cross subsidies, but whether they were "necessary" or not
is likely debatable) Harlequin isn't a publically accountable firm so what exactly
happened is somewhat a mystery.


> By "dying" I mean in decline, I would guess it's still used more than
> any other "second league" language (anything other than C, C++ and maybe
> Java) - but for how long?

"second league"? In terms of number of lines in commerical use I
imagine Cobol puts all of the above into the "second league". It doesn't
have no where near the "hype" factor going for it though. So perhaps it is
a matter of perception.

This all has be taken in perspective. If C++ and Java grow at 50% per year and
"Lisp" grows at 20% per year is Lisp "dying"? Some will say yes. Possibly
because the "biggest herd" always wins or that the language business is some sort
of zero sum game. So growth and overall percentage is all that ever counts. Others
will say no. All ecosystems have niches; being in a niche doesn't mean you're
"dying". "Lisp" has a proven track record as a long term survivor.

IMHO, if "Harlequin" does disappear and no new competitor pops up to replace it then
"Lisp" isn't very healthly. A reasonable amount of competition keeps the vendor(s)
honest. Although "Lisp" has more then enough "external" competition to contend with.


---

Lyman

nco...@bridgetrix.com

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Jul 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/11/99
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>
> IMHO, if "Harlequin" does disappear and no new competitor pops up to
replace it then
> "Lisp" isn't very healthly. A reasonable amount of competition keeps
the vendor(s)
> honest. Although "Lisp" has more then enough "external" competition to
contend with.


A Harlequin tech support representative I've been corresponding with is
under the impression that they'll be bought up soon and continue with Lisp
virtually uninterrupted.

As to the first topic, I'm just about to start a job search and have
been informed there aren't any Lisp jobs out there.

Neil Cohen
Bridge Trix
Producers of the Bobby Wolff Bridge Mentoring Series
http://www.bridgetrix.com

Andi Kleen

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Jul 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/11/99
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Craig Brozefsky <cr...@red-bean.com> writes:
>
> So, it has more commercial implementations than perl, python, and tcl,
> put together. It's an ANSI standard (CommonLisp that is). It has
> more free implementations than just about any other language except
> scheme (a member of the Lisp family itself).

<offtopic and doesn't really matter, but anyways>

I would guess there are more Forths than Schemes.


-Andi
--
This is like TV. I don't like TV.

Rob Warnock

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Jul 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/11/99
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Andi Kleen <ak...@muc.de> wrote:
+---------------

| I would guess there are more Forths than Schemes.
+---------------

Really??? There are dozens & dozens of Schemes[*] that *I* know of...
How many Forths are there? Even a dozen?


-Rob

[*] This is one of the frequent criticisms of Scheme! ;-}

-----
Rob Warnock, 8L-855 rp...@sgi.com
Applied Networking http://reality.sgi.com/rpw3/
Silicon Graphics, Inc. Phone: 650-933-1673
1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy. FAX: 650-933-0511
Mountain View, CA 94043 PP-ASEL-IA

Martin Rodgers

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Jul 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/11/99
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In article <7m9qk7$8c...@fido.engr.sgi.com>, rp...@rigden.engr.sgi.com
says...

> Really??? There are dozens & dozens of Schemes[*] that *I* know of...
> How many Forths are there? Even a dozen?

If we only count the systems that a single programmer knows, we might
dismiss any language as irrelevant. The numbers argument is always a
weak one (see my final point, below). The numbers only matter when you
can count the number of implementations on the fingers of one hand and
such implementations require considerable effort to create.

I've known Forth programmers who create a Forth just like sneezing. I
wouldn't be suprised if there are Scheme implementors who can do the
same thing, but in Forth there's a very fine line between using Forth
and implementing Forth. (It used to take me about 3 weeks to create a
Forth from scratch, and I'm no expert.) In Lisp, we tend to build the
language up rather than down. In Forth, we go up _and_ down.

Glancing over my monitor at my bookcase, I spy a book that features a
series of Scheme implementations, none of them very big. If we're
talking about commercial and freeware Forths, that's another matter.
Systems like that tend to need documentation.

It looks to me like Forth is as much in decline as Common Lisp and
Scheme, and neither language is in danger of dying. Perhaps we should
be counting programmers instead of systems, but that's much harder to
do. Comparing web/ftp logs might be easier.

All I know is, everytime somebody asks if (or claims that) a language
is dead, dozens of programmers jump up and shout about how healthy it
is, and how many people are using it. Then somebody mentions Cobol.
--
Remove insect from address | You can never browse enough
will write code that writes code that writes code for food

William Tanksley

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Jul 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/11/99
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On 11 Jul 1999 10:11:19 GMT, Rob Warnock wrote:
>Andi Kleen <ak...@muc.de> wrote:
>+---------------
>| I would guess there are more Forths than Schemes.
>+---------------

>Really??? There are dozens & dozens of Schemes[*] that *I* know of...


>How many Forths are there? Even a dozen?

Grin... There's at least one Forth for every Forth programmer. It's
almost a rite of passage -- to be a Forth programmer you have to implement
your own Forth. Preferably experimental in nature, but otherwise
compatible.

With the arrival of ANSI this slowed down; now that Chuck's mentioned
Machine Forth it's sped back up again.

>-Rob

--
-William "Billy" Tanksley

Christopher B. Browne

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Jul 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/11/99
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On 11 Jul 1999 10:11:19 GMT, Rob Warnock <rp...@rigden.engr.sgi.com> posted:

>Andi Kleen <ak...@muc.de> wrote:
>+---------------
>| I would guess there are more Forths than Schemes.
>+---------------
>
>Really??? There are dozens & dozens of Schemes[*] that *I* know of...
>How many Forths are there? Even a dozen?

There were a half-dozen Forths for Atari 8 bit, and about a half-dozen
for Atari ST.

I count 28 distinct implementations at
<http://www.forth.org/compilers.html>, and that list is decidedly not
comprehensive.
--
Lisp Users:
Due to the holiday next Monday, there will be no garbage collection.
cbbr...@ntlug.org- <http://www.ntlug.org/~cbbrowne/lsf.html>

Stig Hemmer

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Jul 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/11/99
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:Is LISP dying?

This is a frequently asked question, even if not a Frequently Asked
Question.

A short summary:

Lisp took a hit when the "AI wave" faded away, but is recovering
nicely.

The reason Lisp seems so small is that the rest of the computer
industry is so enourmous.

Stig Hemmer,
Jack of a Few Trades.

Christopher R. Barry

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Jul 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/11/99
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nco...@bridgetrix.com writes:

> As to the first topic, I'm just about to start a job search and have
> been informed there aren't any Lisp jobs out there.

There are hundreds of thousands of Lisp jobs out there. It's a matter
of your perspective. Just because when you look through ads all you
see is "BS with 3 years experience and strong C, C++, Perl and Java
skills..." doesn't necessarily mean that you can't use Lisp for the
job, or at least part of the job.

Also, it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission....

Christopher

Eric O'Dell

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Jul 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/11/99
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On 11 Jul 1999 19:47:05 +0200, Stig Hemmer <st...@pvv.ntnu.no> wrote:

>The reason Lisp seems so small is that the rest of the computer
>industry is so enourmous.

I'm glad someone pointed this out. If language X used to be used for
25% of all applications (as if we have _any_ way of acquiring reliable
statistics like that), but is now being used for only 5% of all
applications, one might be tempted to say it is in decline --- but not
if the number of applications has grown by, say, 500%.

Advocates of the popular languages/methodologies du jour like to say
that their favorite language will soon eliminate everything else, the
current offenders being C++ and Java. But this is pure bull; the
number of languages and methodologies continues to grow, which is,
IMHO, a sign of the increasing diversity and maturity of the field.

If COBOL can persist as long as it has, it's a safe bet that our
grandchildren will be debugging C programs.


-E.

+-------------------------------------------------------------------+
| "I have come a very long way from myself only to realize that |
| identity is a skill and self-betrayal is a habit. Once lost, the |
| former is very hard to regain; once gained, the latter is very |
| hard to lose." ---I. Corvus, _The Europe of Our Dreams_ |
+-------------------------------------------------------------------+
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Eric O'Dell

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Jul 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/11/99
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On Sun, 11 Jul 1999 18:58:38 GMT, cba...@2xtreme.net (Christopher R.
Barry) wrote:

>There are hundreds of thousands of Lisp jobs out there. It's a matter
>of your perspective. Just because when you look through ads all you
>see is "BS with 3 years experience and strong C, C++, Perl and Java
>skills..." doesn't necessarily mean that you can't use Lisp for the
>job, or at least part of the job.
>
>Also, it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission....

This is true. I just finished a contract job using C when what was
requested was Perl. In this particular case, my employer had no
in-house programmers, and it was easy to persuade him that a C
programmer would be easier to find down the road than a Perl
programmer. (After I convinced him that CGI scripts don't have to be
written in Perl, of course, which took some doing.)

Smaller shops are more open to this sort of thing than big corporate
installations, but there are exceptions everywhere. The ads in the
paper are often discouraging, but then again, they are often written
by HR personnel who are just repeating buzzwords.

Johan Kullstam

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Jul 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/11/99
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James Hague <jha...@dadgum.com> writes:

> Still, I think Lisp has some trouble because it's not as easy to use
> for shippable desktop applications as, say, C. Most of the free
> Lisp systems tend to be rather large with little thought given to
> turnkey applications. The best commercial Lisp on the
> market--Allegro Common Lisp--isn't royalty free. On the other hand,
> desktop applications are a small part of the overall picture.

what do you mean desktop application?

lisp suffers because it's hard to make hello world type starter
programs that stand alone in a lisp hostile operating system, e.g.,
unix, microsoft dos/windows[1].

lisp tends to seem large and awkward in the context of unix. C has
run-time library support and all kinds of operating system hooks. the
comparison is unfair, however, a completely fair appraisal is
unrealistic.

if you mean by desktop applications things like spreadsheets and
wordprocessors, then i would think that lisp would be the perfect
language. these applications are large and complex in the first
place. lisp is good at large and complex. a lisp run-time would be
lost in the noise. consider how well emacs works for text. now
imagine a lisp based wordprocessor. unfortunately, no one uses lisp
for these but that is more out of ignorance than sound judgement imho.

[1] (format t "hello world~%") is certainly easy. the hard part is
getting the operating system to cooperate in loading and launching
lisp to process this.

--
J o h a n K u l l s t a m
[kull...@ne.mediaone.net]
Don't Fear the Penguin!

Pierre R. Mai

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Jul 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/11/99
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nco...@bridgetrix.com writes:

> As to the first topic, I'm just about to start a job search and have
> been informed there aren't any Lisp jobs out there.

Hmmm, there was a job ad on here a couple of days ago. Last time I
had a look at the offerings of a popular Job search engine over here,
I had no problem finding 3-5 jobs featuring Lisp here in Europe.

So I think there are a number of Lisp jobs out there. OTOH you
probably have to be more flexible to take advantage of them
(i.e. relocating, changing areas of interest, etc.), than for many
other languages that are a tad more popular.

Regs, Pierre.

--
Pierre Mai <pm...@acm.org> PGP and GPG keys at your nearest Keyserver
"One smaller motivation which, in part, stems from altruism is Microsoft-
bashing." [Microsoft memo, see http://www.opensource.org/halloween1.html]

Johan Kullstam

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Jul 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/11/99
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jos...@lavielle.com (Rainer Joswig) writes:

> In article <m2g12vd...@sophia.axel.nom>, Johan Kullstam <kull...@ne.mediaone.net> reiterated false information:


>
> > lisp suffers because it's hard to make hello world type starter
> > programs that stand alone in a lisp hostile operating system, e.g.,
> > unix, microsoft dos/windows[1].
>

> Have you ever tried? LWW? ACL? Golden CL? CLOE? LW? LCL?
> Eclipse CL? Clisp? GCL? CMU CL? CLICC? MCL? Chestnut CL?
> Corman Lisp? Exper Common Lisp? Procyon Common Lisp? L?
> Codemist Common Lisp? ECoLisp? LinkLisp? ...?

> You mean *all* these Lisp system have been developed
> without making it easy to develop applications?

i use linux and windows nt. i've tried CMUCL, clisp and ACL5. i find
that they are all awkward at producing a hello world application.
sure i can open up a lisp and type (format t "hello world") or (load
"hello-world") and then run something. sometimes, i can put
#!/usr/bin/lisp at the top of a lisp script. some lisps get upset
about lines beginning with #!. in any event, they (at least CMUCL,
clisp and trial ACL5) don't produce a stand alone binary i can copy to
someone. maybe i am doing something wrong.

i am not trying to run anyone down. i just started using lisp about
6-7 months ago and i really like it. it's just that unix and windows
are set up to support C and C++. e.g., C has a largish libc these
days. it's pretty much always in core and therefore no one pays any
attention to it.

> > lisp tends to seem large and awkward in the context of unix.
>

> Have you ever tried? We are doing it all the time.

i use lisp for lots of stuff. i just wish i had an operating system
which offered better integration with lisp. perhaps i am missing some
things i could do? is there a lisp-howto for linux out there? i mean
paul graham's books, the hyperspec, steele's book, the cmucl user
manual, acls docs are great. however i haven't found a good low level
nitty gritty here's how you use emacs, here's how you get a bash shell
in linux to launch a lisp program, when should you clobber and restart
your lisp listener, how many lisps do you need going at once &c.

> > now imagine a lisp based wordprocessor. unfortunately, no one uses lisp
> > for these
>

> No one? How do you know?
>
> An example: Ever heard of Interleaf? From the Interleaf FAQ:

no, i had never heard of interleaf. thanks.

> 1.1. What is Interleaf?

[snip]

> That you don't have heard about publishing applications using Lisp
> doesn't mean that they don't exist (-> Schematext, Concordia, ...).

nod. thanks for the info.

Rainer Joswig

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Jul 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/12/99
to
In article <m2g12vd...@sophia.axel.nom>, Johan Kullstam <kull...@ne.mediaone.net> reiterated false information:

> lisp suffers because it's hard to make hello world type starter
> programs that stand alone in a lisp hostile operating system, e.g.,
> unix, microsoft dos/windows[1].

Have you ever tried? LWW? ACL? Golden CL? CLOE? LW? LCL?
Eclipse CL? Clisp? GCL? CMU CL? CLICC? MCL? Chestnut CL?
Corman Lisp? Exper Common Lisp? Procyon Common Lisp? L?
Codemist Common Lisp? ECoLisp? LinkLisp? ...?

You mean *all* these Lisp system have been developed
without making it easy to develop applications?

> lisp tends to seem large and awkward in the context of unix.

Have you ever tried? We are doing it all the time.

> now imagine a lisp based wordprocessor. unfortunately, no one uses lisp
> for these

No one? How do you know?

An example: Ever heard of Interleaf? From the Interleaf FAQ:

1.1. What is Interleaf?

Interleaf, Inc. provides software and services to allow organizations
to build, integrate and manage document systems. Interleaf software
covers the full range of document processes: accessing information,
developing text and graphic documents, putting them through their
review and revision processes, distributing them electronically or on
paper, and managing the entire process.

"Interleaf 6" is a document authoring and composition package. It
provides an integrated set of tools for creating compound documents:
word processing, graphics, data-driven business charts, tables,
equations, image editing, automated page layout, book building-
including automatic index and TOC, conditional document assembly. It
includes several features engineered to support the production of large
and complex document sets, including: centralized control over parts
or all of a document (format and/or content), global search and
replace/change on individual graphics objects regardless of specific
orientation or position, revision management.

Also available (on some platforms) is the optional Developer's Toolkit
(DTK) for customizing or extending the capabilities of the above
authoring tool. Developer's Toolkit is used to write programs in
Interleaf Lisp. Interleaf Lisp is similar to CommonLISP, but it also
contains an extensive set of classes, methods, and functions for
examining and changing almost all Interleaf objects, including
documents and their contents. DTK includes an editor, debugger,
compiler, listener, interpreter, and on-line documentation. Lisp code
developed with DTK, or even written with an ordinary editor, can be
executed by the stock system, so that customization or the provision of
special functionality is not limited to installations with DTK. In
fact, much of the distributed system is written in Lisp.

Rainer Joswig

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Jul 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/12/99
to
In article <m2n1x2o...@sophia.axel.nom>, Johan Kullstam <kull...@ne.mediaone.net> wrote:

> about lines beginning with #!. in any event, they (at least CMUCL,
> clisp and trial ACL5) don't produce a stand alone binary i can copy to
> someone. maybe i am doing something wrong.

I've been doing this for years with MCL and now also with LWW.
We do all our scripting and applications on Unix with CLisp (favorite),
GCL (historical), siod (CGIs) and scsh (shell scripting).
We don't do any PERL, Python, TCL or any other lesser language.

> > Have you ever tried? We are doing it all the time.
>

> i use lisp for lots of stuff. i just wish i had an operating system
> which offered better integration with lisp.

Unless you get a Lispm, Macintosh Common Lisp has (IMBO)
the best OS integration.

> perhaps i am missing some
> things i could do? is there a lisp-howto for linux out there?

http://www.telent.net/lisp/
http://www.telent.net/lisp/howto.html
http://clisp.cons.org/~haible/clisp.html
http://www.elwoodcorp.com/alu/table/contents.htm
...

> i mean
> paul graham's books, the hyperspec, steele's book, the cmucl user
> manual, acls docs are great. however i haven't found a good low level
> nitty gritty here's how you use emacs, here's how you get a bash shell
> in linux to launch a lisp program, when should you clobber and restart
> your lisp listener, how many lisps do you need going at once &c.

Such info is partly available. If you write something
or you find something on the web submit it to the
ALU pages:
http://www.elwoodcorp.com/alu/table/about.htm

Mark Carroll

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Jul 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/12/99
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In article <ncohen-1107...@isdn5-67.ip.realtime.net>,
<nco...@bridgetrix.com> wrote:
(snip)

> As to the first topic, I'm just about to start a job search and have
>been informed there aren't any Lisp jobs out there.

Hey, I use some Modula-3 in my current job, and also write Modula-3 as
a consultant to another place, and I would bet that Common Lisp is
much 'bigger' than M3! (-: Quite simply, you just have to find jobs
where your employers are more interested in the fact that you're
solving their problems than in imposing their half-baked notions of
the best way to go about it. So, if you don't find any Lisp jobs, look
for flexible software-development posts. If you can demonstrate decent
software you've already written, that goes a long way.

(Just be verbose in your comments, etc. to help colleagues with little
Lisp knowledge work on the code if they have to!)

This is fairly general, so fu set to c.l.m only.

-- Mark

Pierre R. Mai

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Jul 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/12/99
to
Johan Kullstam <kull...@ne.mediaone.net> writes:

> manual, acls docs are great. however i haven't found a good low level
> nitty gritty here's how you use emacs, here's how you get a bash shell
> in linux to launch a lisp program, when should you clobber and restart
> your lisp listener, how many lisps do you need going at once &c.

Bundled with the Debian CMU CL packages, there is a short file
somewhere in /usr/doc/cmucl/ that explains how to get Linux to start
lisp files via CMU CL...

Jerry Avins

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Jul 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/12/99
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Christopher B. Browne wrote:
>
> On 11 Jul 1999 10:11:19 GMT, Rob Warnock <rp...@rigden.engr.sgi.com> posted:
> >Andi Kleen <ak...@muc.de> wrote:
> >+---------------
> >| I would guess there are more Forths than Schemes.
> >+---------------
> >
> >Really??? There are dozens & dozens of Schemes[*] that *I* know of...
> >How many Forths are there? Even a dozen?
>
> There were a half-dozen Forths for Atari 8 bit, and about a half-dozen
> for Atari ST.
>
> I count 28 distinct implementations at
> <http://www.forth.org/compilers.html>, and that list is decidedly not
> comprehensive.

I have Forth for the AIM-65 in ROM, SYM-1 on tape, and FOCAL (a sort-of
Forth) for KIM-1. Also Aforth standalone for Z-80. Lately, I haven't
seen them on any list.


> --
> Lisp Users:
> Due to the holiday next Monday, there will be no garbage collection.
> cbbr...@ntlug.org- <http://www.ntlug.org/~cbbrowne/lsf.html>

--
Engineering is the art | Let's talk about what
of making what you want | you need; you may see
from things you can get. | how to do without it.
---------------------------------------------------------

my-las...@mediaone.net

unread,
Jul 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/12/99
to
Johan Kullstam <kull...@ne.mediaone.net> wrote:

>i use linux and windows nt. i've tried CMUCL, clisp and ACL5. i find
>that they are all awkward at producing a hello world application.
>sure i can open up a lisp and type (format t "hello world") or (load
>"hello-world") and then run something. sometimes, i can put
>#!/usr/bin/lisp at the top of a lisp script. some lisps get upset

>about lines beginning with #!. in any event, they (at least CMUCL,
>clisp and trial ACL5) don't produce a stand alone binary i can copy to
>someone. maybe i am doing something wrong.
>

>i am not trying to run anyone down. i just started using lisp about
>6-7 months ago and i really like it. it's just that unix and windows
>are set up to support C and C++. e.g., C has a largish libc these
>days. it's pretty much always in core and therefore no one pays any
>attention to it.

Using lisp for "Hello world" is a bit like:

- using Macsyma to balance your check book
- using Adobe Photoshop to view GIF files
- Using the Hoover dam to recharge your AA batteries

It's value is in its capacity to assist in solving big/complex problems.
Once viewed in that light, it's a question of "look at this solution to our hard
problem" and not "I can't run it from my .cshrc".

All a matter of perspective.

[...]


>
>i use lisp for lots of stuff. i just wish i had an operating system

>which offered better integration with lisp. perhaps i am missing some
>things i could do? is there a lisp-howto for linux out there? i mean


>paul graham's books, the hyperspec, steele's book, the cmucl user

>manual, acls docs are great. however i haven't found a good low level
>nitty gritty here's how you use emacs, here's how you get a bash shell
>in linux to launch a lisp program, when should you clobber and restart
>your lisp listener, how many lisps do you need going at once &c.

On that sentiment you'll find lots of agreement. Lots of people run scheme
derivatives as login shells, but I'm not the guy to tell you how.


D. Tenny
my-las...@mediaone.net - no spam please

my-las...@mediaone.net

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Jul 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/12/99
to
cba...@2xtreme.net (Christopher R. Barry) wrote:

>nco...@bridgetrix.com writes:
>
>> As to the first topic, I'm just about to start a job search and have
>> been informed there aren't any Lisp jobs out there.
>

>There are hundreds of thousands of Lisp jobs out there. It's a matter
>of your perspective. Just because when you look through ads all you
>see is "BS with 3 years experience and strong C, C++, Perl and Java
>skills..." doesn't necessarily mean that you can't use Lisp for the
>job, or at least part of the job.

I'm rather skeptical of the claim that there are hundreds of thousands of Lisp
jobs out there. In fact, I bet there are fewer than 50 paying lisp job openings
open this minute around the world. (I'm talking about commercial software
endeavors which are using lisp to code the software).

However I have one available and will post elsewhere in this conference.
Send resumes to (concatenate 'string "dtenny"
"@" "truesoft.com") if you want more info.

As to whether lisp is dying, I prefer to think of it as "commercially
challenged". It'll never die as long as there's interest. Finding a good
commercially supported lisp for business is getting more difficult however.
In this regard, Franz may be pricey, but their business model is probably more
solid than many lisp vendors which went before them, as evidenced by the fact
they're still around.

Rob Warnock

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Jul 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/13/99
to
Jerry Avins <jya...@erols.com> wrote:
+---------------

| I have Forth for the AIM-65 in ROM, SYM-1 on tape, and FOCAL (a sort-of
| Forth) for KIM-1...
+---------------

Uh... Having ported Doug Wrege's version of PDP-8 FOCAL/F to the PDP-10
Spring 1971, I can say with some confidence that FOCAL isn't even *vaguely*
Forth-like -- it's much closer to JOSS & MUMPS, and in fact, was developed
by Richey Lary following his participation in the first installation of
MUMPS at Mass Gen. While (old, original) MUMPS had "string" as it's only
data type (like Tcl), FOCAL had "floating point" as its only data type.
(In fact, mutable "strings" were emulated with arrays of floating-point
numbers, each array element representing one character.)

Like JOSS & MUMPS & BASIC & FORTRAN -- but unlike Forth -- FOCAL has
traditional infix arithmetic with "the usual" operator priorities,
that is, the assignment "SET A=B+C*4.35-D/2.468" is interpreted as
"SET A=((B+(C*4.35))-(D/2.468))".


-Rob

p.s. My FOCAL-10 port involved some serious rewriting of the internal
FOCAL lexical subroutines SORTC & SORTJ to become two-instruction macros
that made heavy use of the PDP-10 byte pointer stuff and "byte strips"
to encode enumerated character equivalence classes. (Hey, it made it
run 25 times faster!) It used some really hairy "MACRO-10" (the PDP-10
assembler) macros to build those tables at compile time. Imagine my
immense delight when I was exposed to Common Lisp and learned that:

1. The style of table-building I'd been writing in PDP-10 assembler
could be done *much* more naturally -- almost trivially, in fact --
with Lisp macros; and

2. That Common Lisp had preserved at least a little of the flavor of
the PDP-10 variable-sized byte operations... with the same names,
even: LDB, DPB, BYTE, BYTE-SIZE, BYTE-POSITION. Way cool!

I just wish I'd gotten into Lisp 20 years earlier than I did... (*sigh*)

Bart Lateur

unread,
Jul 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/13/99
to
Rob Warnock wrote:

>Like JOSS & MUMPS & BASIC & FORTRAN -- but unlike Forth -- FOCAL has
>traditional infix arithmetic with "the usual" operator priorities,
>that is, the assignment "SET A=B+C*4.35-D/2.468" is interpreted as
>"SET A=((B+(C*4.35))-(D/2.468))".

This must be totally off-topic, but...

I thought I had read that one of the peculiarities of MUMPS is that the
was NO operator precedence? That everything was just executed from left
to right? That, therefore,

SET A=B+C*4.35-D/2.468

would be interpreted as

SET A=(((B+C)*4.35)-D)/2.468

?
Bart.

Michael Coughlin

unread,
Jul 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/13/99
to
Christopher B. Browne wrote:

> On 11 Jul 1999 10:11:19 GMT, Rob Warnock <rp...@rigden.engr.sgi.com
> posted:
> >Andi Kleen <ak...@muc.de> wrote:
> >+---------------
> >| I would guess there are more Forths than Schemes.
> >+---------------

> >Really??? There are dozens & dozens of Schemes[*] that *I* know of...
> >How many Forths are there? Even a dozen?

> There were a half-dozen Forths for Atari 8 bit, and about a half-dozen
> for Atari ST.

> I count 28 distinct implementations at
> <http://www.forth.org/compilers.html>, and that list is decidedly not
> comprehensive.

There are roughly a hundred versions of Forth that you can
get copies of. If you have a need for a special version of
Forth,
mention it on comp.lang.forth, and somebody will offer to send
you a copy of his unpublished version that he never got around
to
finishing. Counting versions is not the way to tell the health
of
a computer language. Count the number of textbooks on the
shelves
of bookstores intead. I conclude that Lisp and Scheme are still
alive with about half to one third as many books as Fortran,
while Fortran has about one tenth as many books as the big guys
like C, Java, Visual Basic and C++. Forth comes out at zero.

When I meet people who tell me they want to learn all
about computing, including programming, I want to say learn
Forth. But I know that woun't work since they can't even go
to the bookstore and buy a book about it. Well at least they
can still get some nice books about Logo to get then started.

--
Michael Coughlin m-cou...@ne.mediaone.net Cambridge, MA USA

Fernando D. Mato Mira

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Jul 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/13/99
to
Michael Coughlin wrote:
     There are roughly a hundred versions of Forth that you can
get copies of. If you have a need for a special version of
Forth,
mention it on comp.lang.forth, and somebody will offer to send
you a copy of his unpublished version that he never got around
to
finishing. Counting versions is not the way to tell the health
What would be cool would be an Open Sourced OpenFirmware.
-- 
((( DANGER )) LISP BIGOT (( DANGER )) LISP BIGOT (( DANGER )))

Fernando D. Mato Mira                    
Real-Time SW Eng & Networking            
Advanced Systems Engineering Division
CSEM                             
Jaquet-Droz 1                   email: matomira AT acm DOT org
CH-2007 Neuchatel                 tel:       +41 (32) 720-5157
Switzerland                       FAX:       +41 (32) 720-5720

www.csem.ch      www.vrai.com     ligwww.epfl.ch/matomira.html
 

Jerry Avins

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Jul 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/13/99
to
Rob Warnock wrote:
>
> Jerry Avins <jya...@erols.com> wrote:
> +---------------
> | I have Forth for the AIM-65 in ROM, SYM-1 on tape, and FOCAL (a sort-of
> | Forth) for KIM-1...
> +---------------
>
> Uh... Having ported Doug Wrege's version of PDP-8 FOCAL/F to the PDP-10
> Spring 1971, I can say with some confidence that FOCAL isn't even *vaguely*
> Forth-like -- it's much closer to JOSS & MUMPS, and in fact, was developed
> by Richey Lary following his participation in the first installation of
> MUMPS at Mass Gen. While (old, original) MUMPS had "string" as it's only
> data type (like Tcl), FOCAL had "floating point" as its only data type.
> (In fact, mutable "strings" were emulated with arrays of floating-point
> numbers, each array element representing one character.)
>
> Like JOSS & MUMPS & BASIC & FORTRAN -- but unlike Forth -- FOCAL has
> traditional infix arithmetic with "the usual" operator priorities,
> that is, the assignment "SET A=B+C*4.35-D/2.468" is interpreted as
> "SET A=((B+(C*4.35))-(D/2.468))".
>
> -Rob
>
> p.s. My FOCAL-10 port involved some serious rewriting of the internal
> FOCAL lexical subroutines SORTC & SORTJ to become two-instruction macros
> that made heavy use of the PDP-10 byte pointer stuff and "byte strips"
> to encode enumerated character equivalence classes. (Hey, it made it
> run 25 times faster!) It used some really hairy "MACRO-10" (the PDP-10
> assembler) macros to build those tables at compile time. Imagine my
> immense delight when I was exposed to Common Lisp and learned that:
>
> 1. The style of table-building I'd been writing in PDP-10 assembler
> could be done *much* more naturally -- almost trivially, in fact --
> with Lisp macros; and
>
> 2. That Common Lisp had preserved at least a little of the flavor of
> the PDP-10 variable-sized byte operations... with the same names,
> even: LDB, DPB, BYTE, BYTE-SIZE, BYTE-POSITION. Way cool!
>
> I just wish I'd gotten into Lisp 20 years earlier than I did... (*sigh*)
>
> -----
> Rob Warnock, 8L-855 rp...@sgi.com
> Applied Networking http://reality.sgi.com/rpw3/
> Silicon Graphics, Inc. Phone: 650-933-1673
> 1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy. FAX: 650-933-0511
> Mountain View, CA 94043 PP-ASEL-IA

Rob,

I remember a Forth-like program I ran on the KIM, sitting at the
teletype in my kid's room working out algorithms to move an NC machine
in arbitrary circular arcs. I remember being annoyed because it seemed
that the major difference from Forth was the renaming of words just to
be different. My recollection that it was called Focal is evidently
faulty. Does anyone know what it might have been? (I had a video RAM on
that KIM, connected to a small TV monitor so I could plot the
trajectories. It was a better machine for my purpose than the mainframe
at work.)

Jerry

Bart Lateur

unread,
Jul 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/13/99
to
Bart Lateur wrote:

>I thought I had read that one of the peculiarities of MUMPS is that the
>was NO operator precedence? That everything was just executed from left
>to right? That, therefore,
>
> SET A=B+C*4.35-D/2.468
>
>would be interpreted as
>
> SET A=(((B+C)*4.35)-D)/2.468
>
>?

Somebody suggested (by e-mail) that I must have been thinking about
another language. Well, I looked it up. Here it is:

M[UMPS] by example: operators
http://www.jacquardsystems.com/Examples/operator.htm

I quote:

M[UMPS] evaluates strictly from left to right, so that 1+1*2
yields 4 and not 3.

Bart.

Elizabeth D Rather

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Jul 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/13/99
to
Michael Coughlin wrote in message <378B405C...@ne.mediaone.net>...
>... Counting versions is not the way to tell the health

>of
>a computer language. Count the number of textbooks on the
>shelves
>of bookstores intead. I conclude that Lisp and Scheme are still
>alive with about half to one third as many books as Fortran,
>while Fortran has about one tenth as many books as the big guys
>like C, Java, Visual Basic and C++. Forth comes out at zero.
>
> When I meet people who tell me they want to learn all
>about computing, including programming, I want to say learn
>Forth. But I know that woun't work since they can't even go
>to the bookstore and buy a book about it. Well at least they
>can still get some nice books about Logo to get then started.


Is Amazon a bookstore? Several Forth books there.

Cheers,
Elizabeth


Michael Schuerig

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Jul 13, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/13/99
to
Michael Coughlin <m-cou...@ne.mediaone.net> wrote:

> I conclude that Lisp and Scheme are still
> alive with about half to one third as many books as Fortran,
> while Fortran has about one tenth as many books as the big guys
> like C, Java, Visual Basic and C++. Forth comes out at zero.

So, can you recommend any of those "zero" books? I've never used Forth
and I'm not sure I ever will. I'm much more attracted to languages from
the Lisp family -- nonetheless, my curiousity has slowly grown over the
years.

Michael

--
Michael Schuerig
mailto:schu...@acm.org
http://www.schuerig.de/michael/

Rob Warnock

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Jul 14, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/14/99
to
Bart Lateur <bart....@skynet.be> wrote:
+---------------+---------------

Thanks for the pinter!

+---------------


| M[UMPS] evaluates strictly from left to right, so that 1+1*2
| yields 4 and not 3.

+---------------

Well, what can I say?!? FOCAL *was* inspired directly by MUMPS, yet
it *did* have operator precedence, for arithmetic exprs at least --
I remember coding that part of FOCAL-10 as direct transliteration
of the FOCAL/F code. There was a separate small data stack for
intermediate results. (And a FOCAL-in-C snarfed off the net some
time ago agrees, too.)

Oh, well...


-Rob

Rob Warnock

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Jul 14, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/14/99
to
Bart Lateur <bart....@skynet.be> wrote:
+---------------
| M[UMPS] by example: operators
| http://www.jacquardsystems.com/Examples/operator.htm
+---------------

Thanks for the pointer!

Michael Coughlin

unread,
Jul 14, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/14/99
to
Michael Schuerig wrote:

> Michael Coughlin <m-cou...@ne.mediaone.net> wrote:

> > I conclude that Lisp and Scheme are still
> > alive with about half to one third as many books as Fortran,
> > while Fortran has about one tenth as many books as the
> > big guys like C, Java, Visual Basic and C++. Forth comes
> > out at zero.

> So, can you recommend any of those "zero" books? I've never
> used Forth and I'm not sure I ever will. I'm much more
> attracted to languages from the Lisp family -- nonetheless,
> my curiousity has slowly grown over the years.

There are many sources of knowledge about Forth for an
experienced computer user and net surfer. The problem I'm always
complaining about is the lack of Forth instructional material
for complete computer novices. I think this lack of interest in
providing new beginners material lowers the quality and quantity
of tutorial material for all levels of Forth.

The best book I've ever seen on programming for any
language was written for Forth -- "Starting Forth" by Leo
Brodie. Unfortunately this is out of print and available only
thru special order; its not on the shelf of bookstores like it
was for over ten years. There is one new book on Forth for
experienced programmers available from Amazon.com (not
bookstores) and also Forth Inc (http://www.forth.com). Of the
very roughly 100 versions of Forth available for various
computers and operating systems, 10 or 20 have some
documentation that will show how to use Forth for someone who
already knows how to program. The other systems assume that you
have read a book like "Starting Forth" or have learned another
version of Forth and can reverse engineer uncommented Forth
source code. There are several tutorials and articles on the web
that are very good and the amount of material is slowly growing.
See the FAQ for comp.lang.forth for a list. Actually there are
too many web pages for Forth and it is hard to sort thru all of
them to find the ones that tell you exactly what you want to
know. If you don't find what you need, post a message to
comp.lang.forth stating your favorite operating system, cpu and
applications and someone point you to the right place.

Michael Coughlin

unread,
Jul 14, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/14/99
to
Elizabeth D Rather wrote:

> Michael Coughlin wrote in message <378B405C...@ne.mediaone.net>...
> >... Counting versions is not the way to tell the health
> >of a computer language. Count the number of textbooks on
> >the shelves of bookstores intead. I conclude that Lisp
> >and Scheme are still alive with about half to one third
> >as many books as Fortran, while Fortran has about one tenth
> >as many books as the big guys like C, Java, Visual Basic
> >and C++. Forth comes out at zero.

> > When I meet people who tell me they want to learn all


> >about computing, including programming, I want to say learn
> >Forth. But I know that woun't work since they can't even go
> >to the bookstore and buy a book about it. Well at least they
> >can still get some nice books about Logo to get then
> >started.

> Is Amazon a bookstore? Several Forth books there.

Amazon is not a bookstore. You can't drop in and
browse. If you don't know what Forth is, or think that Forth
isn't used anymore, you woun't notice a book about it by
accident when you're looking for some other topic on
programming. You can't just buy a book because you have it
in your hot little hand and it looks interesting. You can't
wrap it up and take it right home. People who don't even have an
account to access amazon.com and the web are the easiest to
influence to at least take a look at Forth. They have not
learned the bad habits of other programming languages and can
immediately appreciate the advantages of Forth.

I just looked for Forth books on amazon.com. Yes there
are several listings. There is only one listed as being in
print, and they say expect delivery within 4 to 6 weeks. There
are also listings for books by Leo Brodie. When I clicked on
"Thinking Forth" I got nothing but a system error. There are
five separate listings for Leo Brodie's book -- "Starting
Forth". That's reasonable since it is at least five times better
than the average book on programming. But its out of print. Its
available only by a special search. It will take them weeks to
find it or tell you if its not available. They don't tell you to
get it faster from the Forth Interest Group in California,
http://www.fig.org/ (at least until their special printing runs
out). Relying on amazon.com to sell Forth textbooks is not a
good thing. It would be better to have a publisher promoting the
book and getting it into bookstores.

Elizabeth Rather is much too shy and modest. She failed to
mention her own book the "Forth Programmers' Handbook". So I'll
tell everyone that it is the one Forth textbook that is in print
and for sale at amazon.com. When I go to my local technical
bookstores to see if it has finally arrived on the shelves (it
hasn't), I find instead books on the equally neglected computer
languages Lisp, Scheme and Logo. I think that Lisp and its
relatives are much more lively than Forth since they still have
recently revised textbooks for sale. Since Forth is still being
used, I can deduce that Lisp is still being used, even tho I
don't know where. But how long will Forth last without at least
a few easily found textbooks?
I wish old Forth programmers would become inspired by Lisp
programmers to write textbooks so they would be able to train
their replacements.

--
Michael Coughlin m-cou...@ne.mediaone.com Cambridge, MA USA

Jerry Avins

unread,
Jul 14, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/14/99
to
Michael Schuerig wrote:
>
> Michael Coughlin <m-cou...@ne.mediaone.net> wrote:
>
> > I conclude that Lisp and Scheme are still
> > alive with about half to one third as many books as Fortran,
> > while Fortran has about one tenth as many books as the big guys
> > like C, Java, Visual Basic and C++. Forth comes out at zero.
>
> So, can you recommend any of those "zero" books? I've never used Forth
> and I'm not sure I ever will. I'm much more attracted to languages from
> the Lisp family -- nonetheless, my curiousity has slowly grown over the
> years.
>
> Michael
>
> --
> Michael Schuerig
> mailto:schu...@acm.org
> http://www.schuerig.de/michael/

Look at http://erwin.phys.virginia.edu/classes/551/primer.txt That
should get you started.

Jerry Avins

unread,
Jul 14, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/14/99
to
Michael Coughlin wrote:
>
> Elizabeth D Rather wrote:
>
> > Michael Coughlin wrote in message <378B405C...@ne.mediaone.net>...
> > >... Counting versions is not the way to tell the health
> > >of a computer language.
...

>
> > Is Amazon a bookstore? Several Forth books there.
>
> Amazon is not a bookstore. You can't drop in and
> browse.
...

> I just looked for Forth books on amazon.com. Yes there
> are several listings. There is only one listed as being in
> print, and they say expect delivery within 4 to 6 weeks.

Amazon always says "4 to 6 weeks", even if they know that the shipment
will arrive tomorrow. Does it take them that long to reprogram their
computer?

...

> --
> Michael Coughlin m-cou...@ne.mediaone.com Cambridge, MA USA

Jerry

Mark K. Gardner

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Jul 14, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/14/99
to
On Wed, 14 Jul 1999 13:31, Michael Coughlin <m-cou...@ne.mediaone.net> wrote:
> [...]

>get it faster from the Forth Interest Group in California,
>http://www.fig.org/ (at least until their special printing runs
> [...]

The URL should be <http://www.forth.org/> rather than the above.

Mark

--
Mark K. Gardner (mkga...@cs.uiuc.edu)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Real-Time Systems Laboratory
--

Erik Naggum

unread,
Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
to
* Andrew Cooke <and...@andrewcooke.free-online.co.uk>
| I get the impression that Lisp is on the way out.

something important happens when a previously privileged position in
society suddenly sees incredibly demand that needs to be filled, using
enormous quantities of manpower. that happened to programming computers
about a decade ago, or maybe two. first, the people will no longer be
super dedicated people, and they won't be as skilled or even as smart --
what was once dedication is replaced by greed and sometimes sheer need as
the motivation to enter the field. second, an unskilled labor force will
want job security more than intellectual challenges (to some the very
antithesis of job security). third, managing an unskilled labor force
means easy access to people who are skilled in whatever is needed right
now, not an investment in people -- which leads to the conclusion that a
programmer is only as valuable as his ability to get another job fast.
fourth, when mass markets develop, pluralism suffers the most -- there is
no longer a concept of healthy participants: people become concerned with
the individual "winner", and instead of people being good at whatever
they are doing and proud of that, they will want to flock around the
winner to share some of the glory.

Lisp is not the kind of language that insecure losers would use. people
do not want to learn Lisp because they stand a better chance of beating
another unskilled fool in the job race. fact is: you don't get a job by
lying about your Lisp skills. all of this means that there is very
little activity at the front gate, where all the journalists and the
media are. there are no people struggling like mad to get into the Lisp
world. they don't have to. if you want to learn Lisp, you go learn Lisp
and talk to nice people who probably have time for you, and you make
yourself good at it. then you go do complex stuff that insecure losers
who lie about their Java skills can't even imagine, and therefore do not
consider part of the competition.

neurosurgery is another field that requires an actual investment and lots
of dedication to get into, is really rewarding to those who get good at
it, but whose jobs are not advertised in regular newspapers. there is a
shortage of neurosurgeons, but very little advertising in the media that
the patients read. programming is both similar and different. whether
you are a user or a programmer these days is often hard to tell (this has
good qualities to it, too), but some programming tasks are still reserved
to highly skilled people who are not afraid to take huge risks. ignoring
for a moment the power of the American Medical Association, we still
wouldn't see a huge amount of books on neurosurgery for dummies in 21
days or whatever. it's just plain inappropriate, and it's intentionally
out of people's reach. Lisp is somewhat like that. people can get lots
of medicines at the drugstore, but they can't be trusted to carve out a
malignant tumor in their child's brain. all sorts of users can do lots
of customization and cool stuff in their "apps", but they really can't be
trusted to run actual flight control systems, configure the telephone
network, write software for video-synchronized magnetic-resonance imaging
for brain surgery, or write automated stock-trading systems. at some
point, the risk of letting unskilled people do the task becomes too
high. that's when you can't trust more than 1% of the programmers out
there, and a surprisingly large number of them know and use Lisp and
tools that are can be trusted. (consider an ATM that gets one of those
frequent Windows crashes, or a naval warfare vessel that has to cold-boot
because a certain display suddenly goes all blue, or any other story in
comp.risks that would have been hilarious if it had been a joke.)

another way to look at this is to see that software in today's society
has a number of diseased elements, to consider that maggots eat only
diseased or dead tissue, that dead or dying software projects lie around
all over the place, like a horrible war zone between ignorant users and
frightened managers, and pretend that you're a maggot. you wouldn't care
about the living and the healthy who prosper outside the war zone, you'd
rush to the war zone to join the feeding frenzy, right? so, to complete
the grim picture, software in our society is diseased, the activity you
read about are all about cleaning up the disasters and surviving the
equivalent of plagues, and it just takes a tremendous amount of people
and work to keep the whole system from dying, like the incredibly stupid
year-2000 problem.

to take but one simple example: suppose you thought of the new millennium
when you wrote your application back in 1972 -- not only wouldn't you be
invited to the party, those who knew you had done it right from the start
and who probably laughed at you at the time would positively hate you
now, and they sure as hell wouldn't tell people about you. and the more
stupid they are, the more important it would be to pretend that nobody
was smart enough to see the next millennium coming.

Lisp is a little too much out of the reach of the masses, and this needs
fixing, but the professional markets are not into language-of-the-week
contests and feeping creaturism in whatever won last week. when your
application takes longer to create than three versions of the JDK, you
don't use Java. the same applies to other long-term stuff. when you
write manuals for naval or air force vessels, you don't use MS Word and
hope Microsoft doesn't come out with yet another incompatible disservice
pack and/or upgrade, you use CALS and enterprise-wide publishing systems.

put yet another way, even though aviation has become a commodity and ever
more people fly around the country for the fun of it (well, maybe not,
but it's certainly not for the food), you don't see people complaining
that business class is in the decline. instead, you notice that there is
fierce competition in the cheaper tickets, but routes are set up mainly
to accomodate business travelers, and if you're willing to pay for it,
all sorts of amenities are available and life in the air is a lot better.

Lisp is not only object-oriented, it's the business class programming
language. (it really is the first-class programming language, but let's
talk about that when you have enough mileage.)

now, since you're worried about Lisp "dying", consider this: Lisp is used
a lot of places where all else has failed. some people are smart enough
(or have been burned enough) to use Lisp from the start, but just as you
can't expect people to pay for insurance until they have a reasonable
idea about the risks that exist around them, most people have to get
burned before they understand the value of investing in not failing.

#:Erik
--
@1999-07-22T00:37:33Z -- pi billion seconds since the turn of the century

Andreas Kochenburger

unread,
Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
to
On Sun, 11 Jul 1999 17:10:15 GMT, cbbr...@news.brownes.org
(Christopher B. Browne) wrote:
>On 11 Jul 1999 10:11:19 GMT, Rob Warnock <rp...@rigden.engr.sgi.com> posted:
>>Andi Kleen <ak...@muc.de> wrote:
>>Really??? There are dozens & dozens of Schemes[*] that *I* know of...
>>How many Forths are there? Even a dozen?
>I count 28 distinct implementations at
><http://www.forth.org/compilers.html>, and that list is decidedly not
>comprehensive.
>--
>Lisp Users:
>Due to the holiday next Monday, there will be no garbage collection.
>cbbr...@ntlug.org- <http://www.ntlug.org/~cbbrowne/lsf.html>

Is there a "Forth in LISP" or a "LISP in FORTH"? I know only of a
Forth native code compiler written in PROLOG (recursion is natural in
PROLOG so the backtracking lends itself to compiling primitives first
and succeeding hilevel words).
Andreas


Marcel Hendrix

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Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
to
Andreas Kochenburger wrote in message <378d8c6d...@news.kwu.erl.siemens.de>...
[..]

>Is there a "Forth in LISP" or a "LISP in FORTH"?
[..]

LISP in Forth exists. Well, it doesn't try to emulate LISP but it adds
a LISP-like vocabulary to Forth, mainly list building words with garbage collection. The original
F-PC code for it is on Taygeta, it even has some documentation.

The GC stinks, I never got it to reliably work in a 32-bit flat model
Forth (iForth) after I converted it from its segment-based origin.

I've added some Prolog code to it published in JFAR (Feuerbacher?). The
demo is a rule-based AI program to determine animals :-)

-marcel


Mark Carroll

unread,
Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
to
In article <378CD1...@ieee.org>, Jerry Avins <jya...@erols.com> wrote:
(snip)

>Amazon always says "4 to 6 weeks", even if they know that the shipment
>will arrive tomorrow. Does it take them that long to reprogram their
>computer?
(snip)

Nonsense - that's been by far the minority of books I've ordered from
them - for instance, the first language book that I could think of,
"C: A Reference Manual", is claimed to ship in two to three days.

Certainly, number of in-print books and their expected delivery time
is not a bad way of getting a first estimate for the 'health' of a
language! Counting the number of currently-supported compilers you
could use to produce marketable software isn't a bad one either.

[ followups trimmed ]

-- Mark

Bernd Paysan

unread,
Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
to
In article <378d8c6d...@news.kwu.erl.siemens.de>,

Kochen...@gmx.de (Andreas Kochenburger) wrote:
> Is there a "Forth in LISP" or a "LISP in FORTH"?

Ullrich Hoffmann wrote a Lisp in Forth, but IIRC, like many Forth
projects, he didn't really finish it. Alex Burger wrote and uses a
Lisp/Forth crossing (everything is list/symbol/number, but syntax is
Forth, or at least very Forth-like), called Lifo and Teatime (same, but
implemented in Java, with Java objects as first class data types).

IMHO Forth and Lisp are much closer to each other than to the rest of
the language space (Algol, Fortran, Cobol and derivatives).

--
Bernd Paysan
"If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself"
http://www.jwdt.com/~paysan/


Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Share what you know. Learn what you don't.

Jerry Avins

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Jul 15, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/15/99
to
"Four to six weeks" seems to mean "out of stock but delivery scheduled".
"Two to three days" seems to mean "In stock somewhere, but not at this
site". Elizabeth Rather can throw some light on this.

Anton Ertl

unread,
Jul 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/16/99
to
In article <378B405C...@ne.mediaone.net>,

Michael Coughlin <m-cou...@ne.mediaone.net> writes:
> Counting versions is not the way to tell the health
> of
> a computer language. Count the number of textbooks on the
> shelves
> of bookstores intead. I conclude that Lisp and Scheme are still

> alive with about half to one third as many books as Fortran,
> while Fortran has about one tenth as many books as the big guys
> like C, Java, Visual Basic and C++. Forth comes out at zero.

Your result may be biased by your selection of bookstores. They'll
probably have to close MIT before LISP and Scheme books will vanish
from the Cambridge (MA) bookstores.

I was just at two bookstores near TU Wien. I did not see LISP,
Scheme, or Forth books. Interestingly, I did not even see a Prolog
book, although we have an obligatory Prolog course in our curriculum;
apparently the course notes are good enough. I saw books for some not
so popular languages: Ada, Haskell, Icon, Miranda, ML, Modula-2,
Oberon.

Concerning the metric you use to evaluate the health of a language: I
think we have now enough experience to conclude that it is wrong. You
whined about the lack of Forth books five years ago, but I see no
indication that Forth is any worse off than then, on the contrary,
other indicators are usually positive: clf traffic has grown, there
are fewer "Forth is dying" postings, implementations for new platforms
(e.g., PalmPilot, Lego Mindstorms) are demanded and supplied quickly,
participation at EuroForth is stable...

> When I meet people who tell me they want to learn all
> about computing, including programming, I want to say learn
> Forth. But I know that woun't work since they can't even go
> to the bookstore and buy a book about it.

And later you claim that Amazon.com is not a book store for this
purpose. Why? Sure, they cannot browse, but they have your
recommendation, and in the case of the Forth Programmer's Handbook
AFAIK they can even download an evaluation copy.

Moreover, there are several on-line Forth courses, so why would they
need to buy a book in a bookstore to learn Forth?

Using my metric of postings in comp.lang groups, here are the postings
present on news.tuwien.ac.at on July 11, 1997 and July 16, 1999. You
will notice that a lot of newsgroups have vanished, that's because
this newsserver has dropped groups that nobody here reads:

1997 1999
3 comp.lang.JavaScript
476 268 comp.lang.ada
206 comp.lang.apl
6 2 comp.lang.asm
786 581 comp.lang.asm.x86
78 comp.lang.asm370
117 144 comp.lang.awk
1 comp.lang.basic
447 comp.lang.basic.misc
114 646 comp.lang.basic.visual
282 comp.lang.basic.visual.3rdparty
691 760 comp.lang.basic.visual.database
3115 3429 comp.lang.basic.visual.misc
39 comp.lang.beta
2458 2471 comp.lang.c
2286 2518 comp.lang.c++
59 comp.lang.c++.leda
328 568 comp.lang.c++.moderated
51 63 comp.lang.c.moderated
968 comp.lang.clarion
731 655 comp.lang.clipper
224 625 comp.lang.clipper.visual-objects
32 comp.lang.clos
23 comp.lang.clu
485 comp.lang.cobol
5 comp.lang.cplu
5 comp.lang.crass
40 comp.lang.dylan
334 152 comp.lang.eiffel
6 comp.lang.for
233 470 comp.lang.forth
53 comp.lang.forth.mac
421 473 comp.lang.fortran
57 87 comp.lang.functional
31 comp.lang.hermes
31 28 comp.lang.icon
32 comp.lang.idl
122 183 comp.lang.idl-pvwave
309 252 comp.lang.java
815 1318 comp.lang.java.advocacy
12 comp.lang.java.announce
137 72 comp.lang.java.api
118 178 comp.lang.java.beans
210 comp.lang.java.corba
2 comp.lang.java.database
277 394 comp.lang.java.databases
4 comp.lang.java.developer
391 1045 comp.lang.java.gui
772 1625 comp.lang.java.help
15 comp.lang.java.javascript
84 171 comp.lang.java.machine
208 comp.lang.java.misc
3440 3864 comp.lang.java.programmer
194 212 comp.lang.java.security
40 comp.lang.java.setup
223 295 comp.lang.java.softwaretools
259 comp.lang.java.tech
1732 2869 comp.lang.javascript
16 comp.lang.limbo
197 791 comp.lang.lisp
24 comp.lang.lisp.franz
46 comp.lang.lisp.mcl
25 comp.lang.lisp.x
130 comp.lang.logo
136 110 comp.lang.misc
14 comp.lang.ml
88 comp.lang.modula2
69 comp.lang.modula3
171 comp.lang.mumps
72 comp.lang.oberon
66 101 comp.lang.objective-c
55 26 comp.lang.pascal
69 comp.lang.pascal.ansi-iso
664 297 comp.lang.pascal.borland
23 51 comp.lang.pascal.delphi
163 comp.lang.pascal.delphi.advocacy
21 comp.lang.pascal.delphi.announce
49 21 comp.lang.pascal.delphi.components
306 140 comp.lang.pascal.delphi.components.misc
222 comp.lang.pascal.delphi.components.usage
306 77 comp.lang.pascal.delphi.components.writing
1 comp.lang.pascal.delphi.database
888 comp.lang.pascal.delphi.databases
2061 864 comp.lang.pascal.delphi.misc
67 comp.lang.pascal.mac
221 111 comp.lang.pascal.misc
56 165 comp.lang.perl
7 1 comp.lang.perl.announce
1865 4223 comp.lang.perl.misc
260 comp.lang.perl.moderated
256 411 comp.lang.perl.modules
115 232 comp.lang.perl.tk
41 comp.lang.pl1
28 comp.lang.pop
284 252 comp.lang.postscript
77 comp.lang.prograph
83 97 comp.lang.prolog
404 999 comp.lang.python
141 155 comp.lang.rexx
3 comp.lang.rexx.tso
4 comp.lang.rexx.vm
26 51 comp.lang.sather
160 178 comp.lang.scheme
32 comp.lang.scheme.c
26 12 comp.lang.scheme.scsh
491 430 comp.lang.smalltalk
737 1235 comp.lang.tcl
23 7 comp.lang.tcl.announce
95 comp.lang.verilog
155 190 comp.lang.vhdl
2 comp.lang.visual
44 380 comp.lang.visual.basic
260 209 comp.lang.vrml

According to these numbers, both clf and cll traffic has grown a lot
in these two years, so I doubt that these languages are dying.

For more statistics, take a look at
http://metalab.unc.edu/usenet-i/hier-s/comp.lang.html. E.g., it
claims that clf has 24000 readers, and that cll has 31000 readers.

- anton
--
M. Anton Ertl Some things have to be seen to be believed
an...@mips.complang.tuwien.ac.at Most things have to be believed to be seen
http://www.complang.tuwien.ac.at/anton/home.html

Elizabeth D Rather

unread,
Jul 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/16/99
to
Mark Carroll wrote in message ...

>In article <378CD1...@ieee.org>, Jerry Avins <jya...@erols.com>
wrote:
>(snip)
>>Amazon always says "4 to 6 weeks", even if they know that the shipment
>>will arrive tomorrow. Does it take them that long to reprogram their
>>computer?
>(snip)
>
>Nonsense - that's been by far the minority of books I've ordered from
>them - for instance, the first language book that I could think of,
>"C: A Reference Manual", is claimed to ship in two to three days.
>
>Certainly, number of in-print books and their expected delivery time
>is not a bad way of getting a first estimate for the 'health' of a
>language! Counting the number of currently-supported compilers you
>could use to produce marketable software isn't a bad one either.


Here's the way it works with Amazon. They avoid inventory like the plague,
and so only order a quantity they know they will ship within days.
Sometimes they order single copies of Handbook from us, sometimes 2,
occasionally as many as 8. They never know when _we_ might be out of stock
and reprinting, so they can't count on our delivery. That's why they say
4-6 weeks on all books they don't stock in volume or are getting from a
large publisher whom they know will always have stock. In fact, in all but
one case we shipped within one working day, and they probably delivered
within one week. The exception was when we ran out following very high
volume of sales of SwiftForth last winter, and were awaiting a new batch
from the printer. That time it took us 2 weeks to deliver an order of 8
books.

Cheers,
Elizabeth

T. X. Puckett

unread,
Jul 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/16/99
to

an...@mips.complang.tuwien.ac.at (Anton Ertl) writes:
& According to these numbers, both clf and cll traffic has grown a lot
& in these two years, so I doubt that these languages are dying.

The true question is, is the growth rate of comp.lang.forth greater
than or less than the growth rate of Usenet traffic in general? I
wouldn't say that more articles in, for example, talk.bizarre means
that the world is necessarily getting more bizarre. I'd say rather
that more bizarre people are posting more. What's the average
increase in posts in *lang* groups, and where does comp.lang.forth
stand on the curve?


--
U. Z. Puckett replace "sendnospam" with "puckett"

Barry

unread,
Jul 16, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/16/99
to
For what it's worth I ordered The Forth Programmer's Handbook directly from
Forth. Inc (www.forth.inc) on Wednesday and it's been sitting on my desk
since this morning. (Friday). So it's available and it looks pretty good so
far.

Barry

Michael Coughlin <m-cou...@ne.mediaone.net> wrote in message
news:378CC969...@ne.mediaone.net...


> Elizabeth D Rather wrote:
>
> > Michael Coughlin wrote in message <378B405C...@ne.mediaone.net>...

> > >... Counting versions is not the way to tell the health


> > >of a computer language. Count the number of textbooks on
> > >the shelves of bookstores intead. I conclude that Lisp
> > >and Scheme are still alive with about half to one third
> > >as many books as Fortran, while Fortran has about one tenth
> > >as many books as the big guys like C, Java, Visual Basic
> > >and C++. Forth comes out at zero.
>

> > > When I meet people who tell me they want to learn all
> > >about computing, including programming, I want to say learn
> > >Forth. But I know that woun't work since they can't even go

> > >to the bookstore and buy a book about it. Well at least they
> > >can still get some nice books about Logo to get then
> > >started.
>

> > Is Amazon a bookstore? Several Forth books there.
>
> Amazon is not a bookstore. You can't drop in and

> browse. If you don't know what Forth is, or think that Forth
> isn't used anymore, you woun't notice a book about it by
> accident when you're looking for some other topic on
> programming. You can't just buy a book because you have it
> in your hot little hand and it looks interesting. You can't
> wrap it up and take it right home. People who don't even have an
> account to access amazon.com and the web are the easiest to
> influence to at least take a look at Forth. They have not
> learned the bad habits of other programming languages and can
> immediately appreciate the advantages of Forth.
>

> I just looked for Forth books on amazon.com. Yes there
> are several listings. There is only one listed as being in

> print, and they say expect delivery within 4 to 6 weeks. There
> are also listings for books by Leo Brodie. When I clicked on
> "Thinking Forth" I got nothing but a system error. There are
> five separate listings for Leo Brodie's book -- "Starting
> Forth". That's reasonable since it is at least five times better
> than the average book on programming. But its out of print. Its
> available only by a special search. It will take them weeks to
> find it or tell you if its not available. They don't tell you to

> get it faster from the Forth Interest Group in California,
> http://www.fig.org/ (at least until their special printing runs

> out). Relying on amazon.com to sell Forth textbooks is not a
> good thing. It would be better to have a publisher promoting the
> book and getting it into bookstores.
>
> Elizabeth Rather is much too shy and modest. She failed to
> mention her own book the "Forth Programmers' Handbook". So I'll
> tell everyone that it is the one Forth textbook that is in print
> and for sale at amazon.com. When I go to my local technical
> bookstores to see if it has finally arrived on the shelves (it
> hasn't), I find instead books on the equally neglected computer
> languages Lisp, Scheme and Logo. I think that Lisp and its
> relatives are much more lively than Forth since they still have
> recently revised textbooks for sale. Since Forth is still being
> used, I can deduce that Lisp is still being used, even tho I
> don't know where. But how long will Forth last without at least
> a few easily found textbooks?
> I wish old Forth programmers would become inspired by Lisp
> programmers to write textbooks so they would be able to train
> their replacements.
>

Erik Naggum

unread,
Jul 18, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/18/99
to
* Johan Kullstam <kull...@ne.mediaone.net>
| I've tried CMUCL, clisp and ACL5. I find that they are all awkward at
| producing a "hello world" application.

of course they are. however, have you ever seen how much work it takes
to boot a modern Unix machine and run a C program just to have it print
"hello world" in an xterm running under MOTIF? man, it sucks. and it's
even more work if it tries to run NT. the machine should be doing a very
limited amount of work for this very simple task, but instead it spends
minutes booting and preparing itself to be useful, not to mention all the
crap necessary to get a program in C able to produce that output. yea,
verily, it sucks.

unfair comparison? not at all. why do you think they chose that phrase?
because they were developing Unix and the C compiler. it's appropriate
to make a machine print "hello world" to verify that everything works
after all the mind-boggling nonsense has interfered with the real purpose
of a computer, and you never know which part of booting up will fail due
to a minor bug. the delight in a C programmer's eyes when his machine
thus booted typed "hello world" back at him would probably parallel that
of a Common Lisp programmer when the satellite communications subsystem
he designed beams back "hello world" after an almost-aborted launch, a
navigation jet which misfired, and the solar panels sustained some damage
by space debris. normally, it's unnecessary to have confirmations of
basic operations, but it makes perfect sense under C.

there are other simple tasks that require a tremendous infrastructure to
make a trivial task come back with a positive result. e.g., you need DNS
to be set up right, routers and firewalls must to do their job, the local
network and telecommunications links must let stuff through, etc, before
you can type "ping elvis" and have the system type "elvis is alive" back
at you. this is actually so delighting that there is a disproportionate
number of machines called "elvis" for this particular reason. (I think
it would be much more fun to have machines called "thelma" and "louise".)

who, these days, would pick up a telephone and consider "hello" to be a
landmark event in human history? while there's nothing wrong with a
strong sense of fascination with "all that which just _works_ around us",
getting excited about "hello world" programs appears to me to be a sure
sign of insanity, or at least a fairly constant case of missing the boat.

| it's just that unix and windows are set up to support C and C++. e.g., C
| has a largish libc these days.

these two statements are pretty much contradictory. the problem is that
neither Unix nor Windows _actually_ support either C or C++, but they
manage to make them work, with downright incredible effort. if you look
inside the libraries and see how a system call actually works and how
much it differs from the C calling convention and usage, you'd be a fool
not to revise your opinion. and _does_ an operating system that forces
the programmer to check to see whether the operating system did what it
was asked to do every damn time you ask it to do anything actually give
any relevant form of support to anyone?

in my view, Unix and Windows support Common Lisp better than they support
C because C is designed for a 70's style machine and operating system,
which modern machines and operating systems have to mimic with all their
flaws and misdesigns, while Common Lisp is a modern language that is well
suited to be hosted on modern systems, and it just happens to be, too.

the irony here is that Common Lisp has been what these machines and
operating systems have aspired to support for all these years and now
that they have finally grown to the task, people have so many problems
with the software written while they were growing up that day-to-day
survival has obscured everything to the point where people who are too
young to know that computers were designed to help people think better,
not just do the same old menial labor faster, believe there is nothing
more to it than luring lots and lots of people to perform menial tasks by
mouse instead of by lever.

anyone remember how the fear that machines would take over the world
quieted down as Bill Gates started to peddle his limpware? the computers
sure did take over the world, but whoever is afraid of toothless little
poodles who all wag their tails when they expected monsters? imagine a
little icon that said "My Scary Monster" or "My Scary Neighborhood" and
a browser that said "abandon all hope ye who click here". wouldn't sell
much, would it? and that's why they are called "confidence games".

I remember someone saying that if it hadn't been for automatic switches
in the telephone network, the entire population of planet earth would
have had to be telephone operators to handle the load of telephone usage
in 1993 or thereabout. I get the eerie feeling that because modern
computer systems are so incredibly braindamaged in their design and in
the tools used to program them, the entire population of planet earth
will be programming these idiotic boxes pretty soon if managers don't
wise up to the fact that the equivalent of automatic switches already
exist and have done so for at least 20 years. yet if Y2K doesn't light
up most manager's view of the world of programming, there isn't hope for
mankind at all.

so, yeah, Lisp is dying because we all have to program in C++ to Bill
Gates' tune, so we don't have time to think about making a better world
with better languages and less menial nonsense in programming computers.
the same thing happened in the last revolution, but fears in those times
caused labor unions and a strong sentiment against all business in some
quarters. user unions these days can't even stop the U.S. Congress from
enacting more laws to protect the software companies from Y2K lawsuits.

but of course, Lisp isn't dying -- it's just that if you think in terms
of the imminent end of the world, _everything_ is soon food for the great
garbage collector in the sky and whoever is not scrambling in panic looks
like they aren't moving and have been passed by or are dying.

the problem I see is not that Bill Gates has shaped the world of useless
trinkets in software, but has also managed to spread his competitiveness
and his personal fear of losing to imaginary competitors to businesses
and homes everywhere, so now everybody is _afraid_ of losing some battle
which isn't happening, instead of getting about their own lives. like,
if you aren't using today's fad language in the very latest version of
the IDE, you'll be left behind. aaaugh! but it's good that some people
run like they are scared out of their wits. if they suddenly disappear
over the edge of a cliff, a good number of people will notice in time and
_not_ follow them. those are the ones that matter.

you can scare most people most of the time, but you can't scare all of
the people all of the time -- some will always use Common Lisp.

#:Erik, who'll stop cross-posting to comp.lang.misc now

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