Classic LISP books online

Two more classic Lisp books are now online at the Computer History Museum:

  • John McCarthy, Paul W. Abrahams, Daniel J. Edwards, Timothy P. Hart and Michael I. Levin. LISP 1.5 Programmer’s Manual. The M.I.T. Press, 1962, second edition. PDF
  • Berkeley and Bobrow, editors. The Programming Language LISP: Its Operation and Applications. Information International, Inc., March 1964 and The MIT Press, April 1966. PDF

Comment viewing options

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

It's freightening to read CS

It's freightening to read CS stuff from 1962 that are still not found in major programming languages. And it is actually not 1962 that this material was 'invented', because its was long before that that the ideas were discovered.

Careful...'re starting to sound like Alan Kay! :-)

I recommend taking two co-cod

I recommend taking two co-codamol before attempting to read about any mainstream "advances" in computer science or software engineering. This should help you cope with the visceral pain that the historical ignorance and retrograde motion of the state-of-the-art tends to induce.

Dooming to repeat

If you want to look at some interesting papers regarding programming languages and how they evolved, check out Horowitz's Programming Languages: A Grand Tour. It was published in 1983 and contains a collection of papers and reports. The first paper, Programming Languages -- The First 25 Years by Wegner is fascinating to read, simply because most of what it describes is stuff that is still argued about today.

The last major advance in programming languages is, arguably, type inference. When you read papers prior to 1975, you don't see much of anything different from stuff post 1975, save for type inference.

Sigh! 1962-2005 43 years down the wrong track.

The starting point of the right track is right there on page 13 the LISP 1.5 Programmer’s Manual.

A small one page Lisp in Lisp interpretor.

I find it is as impressive now as it was way back when I first read it.

We have made 43 years of progress down the wrong track towards ever more complex and less analysable languages. Hopefully history will regard C++ as the nadir of this trend.


Some pertinent comments here.