Why Did Symbolics Fail?

Lemonodor has the story, and the links, starting with Dan Weinreb's blog post. Yes, Dan Weinreb has a blog, so if you weren't paying attention, now is the time to check it out!

For me, the take home message is from Paul Graham: If the Lisp machines were so gratuitously, baroquely complex, I should really find the time to learn more about them...

Happy new year, everyone!

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Dylan could've been a contender

I think Dylan would've had a significant impact on the software development ecosystem if the chain of events resulting in OSX had not happened. Dylan seemed to have cleaned up some of Common Lisp's compromised warts, Apple would have put out a slick IDE, and Java would have looked quite pathetic in comparison.

Oh well, Dylan still remains one of my favorite languages (if not a little verbose).


keeping it simple for the simple folks is a very important property of everything. The average programmer is not a mathematical genius, he is a layman, a worker. LISP is anything but simple, and that's why it failed, in my humble opinion (I tried to start with common LISP once, but its 700 and more 'symbols' I needed to learn simply made me quit).

I Came Here for an Argument!

That argument could be that the KISS Lisp is Scheme, but Scheme routinely comes in for criticism as being too simple to be practical, even with the various commonly-implemented SRFIs and libraries such as SLIB which, IIRC, even Anton doesn't care much for. :-)

Run the gauntlet-gamut

So, for PLT and language design, how does somebody dial in where a language should be? Or, how do they allow it to be flexible enough to support a range of styles? What languages have succeeded or failed in some way that we can clearly learn from?

Presumably one answer is, "it depends" as in it depends on the people using it. If your team knows Java mostly then using Haskell probably will either lead to lame looking Haskell, or will fail because they can't read other Haskell. (Or say Perl there instead :-)