Interesting Quote (anthropology and language)

Jonathan Ellis jonathan at
Sat Aug 13 07:17:33 MDT 2005

On Fri, 12 Aug 2005 22:08:59 -0600, "Levi Pearson" <levi at> said:
> Now consider the history of Lisp.  It was once the hacker language of  
> choice.  Read stories about the early history of computing, and  
> they'll be filled with stories of the MIT AI lab, the ITS operating  
> system, etc.  This was a strong Lisp community.  But Lisp Machines  
> (which rose from the MIT AI Lab) went commercial and proprietary, and  
> thus the hacker community was forced away from them.

Wow.  That's totally the opposite of what I've seen.  Lisp guys *loved*
their Lisp Machines.  It's like the Amiga community.  "Back in the day
we totally kicked everyone's butt, man."

And how is Lisp Machines more commercial than your "cheap unix
workstation" vendors like Sun?

I think it's wishful thinking to blame Lisp's decline on
proprietary-ness rather than the market saying, "yeah, we just don't get
lisp.  No thanks."


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