Ancient HisTory

I love reading about the history of computers and computer programming. There’s an amazing collection of tales on discovery, on people breaking new grounds. And the best part of it is that those people are still here to tell their story… i sometimes even regret not having been born 20 years before.

Of course, there’s a lot of Lisp lore waiting to anyone interested. My last readings on Lisp history include History of T, by Olin Shivers. T, one of the first Schemes, was one of the best Lisp implementations, and, according to Paul Graham, set a standard for clean design that few newer dialects have been able to meet. Olin gives a detailed survey of its history, which took place mainly at Yale, MIT and CMU, and features Richard Kelsey, Ken Pitman, Jonathan Rees and RMS among many others (have you ever wondered how those guys look like?). Rees has also put online a web page dedicated to T.

Recently, there has even been some talk (and code) about a T revival, although, by now, you will need a Solaris SPARC to run the system. While you wait for a port to your favourite architecture, you can still learn and enjoy from the T manual in PDF: it goes full of neat ideas for that new language of yours.

Update: I just found an implementation of T’s object system in 20 (!) lines of Ruby. See it by yourself in this post by Christian Neukirchen.

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