A Talk on Lisp Machines

Over at LoperOS they've put up a video of a talk that Kalman Reti gave last year at the Boston Lisp Meeting. The talk is about the Symbolics Lisp Machines and includes a demo of the original software running in an emulator on a modern laptop. Reti was a developer at Symbolics and is very familiar with the machines and their history.

As the talk makes clear, it's incredible how advanced those machines were for their time. In the 1980s they had several features that we consider standard today but that existed virtually nowhere else at the time. The systems came with bitmapped displays, a three button mouse, compilers for several languages, a windowing system, and an advanced file system.

I found the history very interesting but the real treat was the demonstrations. If you forget about the monochromatic display and old style window decorations you might think you were watching a modern demonstration of some advanced Emacs debugging session. If, after watching the video, you'd like to try the emulator yourself, there's some information about it on the CLiki, including information on how to get the software and set up the emulator.

The talk is about an hour and a quarter so you'll need to block out some time but I found it well worth the investment.

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