Why don't people like lisp?
tjreedy at udel.edu
Fri Oct 17 18:18:40 CEST 2003
> >>It is still a question of heated debate what actually killed the
> >>machine industry.
The premise of this question is that there actually was a lisp-machine
industry (LMI) to be killed. My memory is that is was stillborn and
that the promoters never presented a *convincing* value proposition to
enough potentional customers to really get it off the ground.
> >>I have so far not seen anybody dipsuting that they were a marvel
> >>technical excellence,
Never having seen one, or read an independent description, I cannot
confirm or 'dipsute' this. But taking this as given, there is the
overlooked matter of price. How many people, Lispers included, are
going to buy, for instance, an advanced, technically excellent,
hydrogen fuel cell car, complete with in-garage hydrogen generator
unit, for, say $200,000.
> >>sporting stuff like colour displays, graphical
> >>user interfaces and laser printers way ahead of anybody else.
I believe these are disputable. The American broadcast industry
switched to color displays in the 50s-60s. Around 1980 there were
game consoles (specialized computers) and small 'general purpose'
computers that piggybacked on color televisions. TV game consoles
thrive today while general PC color computing switched (mid80s) to
computer monitors with the higher resolution needed for text. It was
their use with PCs that brought the price down to where anyone could
Did lisp machines really have guis before Xerox and Apple?
Did lisp machine companies make laser printers before other companies
like HP made them for anyone to use? If so, what did they price them
> Francis Avila wrote:
> > I think what helped kill the lisp machine was probably lisp: many
> > just don't like lisp, because it is a very different way of
> > most are rather unaccustomed to.
"Pascal Costanza" <costanza at web.de> responded
> Wrong in two ways:
In relation to the question about the would-be Lisp machine industry,
this answer, even if correct, is besides the point. People buy on the
basis of what they think. One answer may to be that the LMI failed to
enlighten enough people as to the error or their thoughts.
I wonder about another technical issue: intercompatibility. I
strongly believe that media incompatibility helped kill the once
thriving 8080/Z80/CPM industry. (In spite of binary compatibility,
there were perhaps 30 different formats for 5 1/2 floppies.) I
believe the same about the nascent Motorola 68000 desktop Unix
industry of the early 80s. (My work unit has some, and I loved them.)
So I can't help wondering if the LMI made the same blunder.
Did all the LMI companies adopt the same version of Lisp so an outside
Lisper could write one program and sell it to run on all? Or did they
each adopt proprietary versions so they could monopolize what turned
out to be dried-up ponds? Again, did they all adopt uniform formats
for distribution media, such as floppy disks, so that developers could
easily distribute to all? Or did they differentiate to monopolize?
Terry J. Reedy
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