Back to the Future

Back to the future: the story of Squeak, a practical Smalltalk written in itself by Dan Ingalls, Ted Kaehler, John Maloney, Scott Wallace, Alan Kay, 1997.

Squeak is an open, highly-portable Smalltalk implementation whose virtual machine is written entirely in Smalltalk, making it easy to debug, analyze, and change. To achieve practical performance, a translator produces an equivalent C program whose performance is comparable to commercial Smalltalks.

Other noteworthy aspects of Squeak include: a compact object format that typically requires only a single word of overhead per object; a simple yet efficient incremental garbage collector for 32-bit direct pointers; efficient bulk-mutation of objects; extensions of BitBlt to handle color of any depth and anti-aliased image rotation and scaling; and real-time sound and music synthesis written entirely in Smalltalk.

This paper is so good that it's hard to believe it was written after 1990!

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a great, great paper

I love papers like this, where big names are getting down and dirty with real engineering issues (like Knuth did with TeX).


I've spent hours just staring at the WarpBlt tests. Try changing test3 (if memory serves) to use a wider portion of the screen... Say, 640x480. Psychedelic!

(Yeah, yeah, the article is interesting too...)