Why aren't we all speaking LISP now?

Sheila King sheila at spamcop.net
Fri May 11 21:36:10 EDT 2001

Laura, I thoroughly enjoyed your "walk down memory lane" as you reminisce about
the experiences you had in programming LISP. Along with the many other articles
I've recently read about it (and Scheme), I have put it on my list as the next
programming language I am going to learn.

On Wed, 9 May 2001 13:53:11 +0200 (MET DST), Laura Creighton
<lac at cd.chalmers.se> wrote in comp.lang.python in article
<mailman.989409253.7945.python-list at python.org>:

:What sort of teaching did the rest of you that took computer science
:courses get?

I took computer programming at University of California, Irvine in 1979/1980. I
took the intro course for comp sci majors, even though I was majoring in German.
The course was taught in UCSD Pascal. It was a self-paced course and very
hands-on. The majority of the curriculum consisted of Turtle graphics (stolen
from Logo, I guess), and string manipulations. We programmed on Terak computers,
with 8 inch floppy disks as our medium for storage. (Did anyone else, here, use
those Terak. I swear, every time I put my disk into that drive, it sounded like
the computer was munching down on it and having a very tasty snack. I always
thought, the disk could not possibly come out intact.) So, I seem to have
skipped the era of punch cards, just barely.

I did not get any of the theory of architecture or deep into data structure
theory until the second and third courses in the first year sequence. And even
then, the course continued to be taught in Pascal, or else a language was not
necessary to the topic. I should caveat that, by mentioning that the actual comp
sci majors were required to take a lab in Assembly Language (for which machine,
I don't know). I chose to skip that lab.

Anyhow, I took that first course as a sort of "deal" with my then-fiance. He
said, he would take a course in German if I would take one in programming. I
enjoyed it so thoroughly (the UCSD Pascal), that I took the entire first year

I didn't do any more programming after that, until the early/mid 90's, when I
got a position as a research assistant at the DOE for a summer, and wrote a
computer simulation in Visual Basic. Then, I started teaching programming a year
or two later.

Anyhow, Python is great, but I've clearly missed out on Lisp and will have to
remedy that deficiency later.

Sheila King

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