Lisp was invented by John McCarthy
in the late 1950's as a formalism for reasoning about the use of
recursion equations as a model for computation. Of computer languages
still in widespread use today, only FORTRAN is older.
Lisp has evolved with the field of Computer Science, always
putting the best ideas from the field into practical use. In 1994,
Common Lisp became the first ANSI standard
to incorporate object
The early development of Lisp is described by McCarthy in "History of Lisp", 1978.
Two of the major developers of the language since then, Richard Gabriel and Guy Steele, presented "The Evolution of
at the 1993
ACM History of Programming Languages conference.
Kent Pitman and Brad Miller have compiled a brief
on-line version of the history of Lisp from ANSI documents.
Stoyan began his study of the history of Lisp in the early 1970s,
while in East Germany. He carried out this study by writing letters
to everyone whose name he could find in the documents as well as by
getting every book and report he could. In 1979 he applied to
emigrate from East Germany, was arrested, spent six months in prison
and then was permitted to emigrate to West Germany. When he got out
of East Germany, he visited M.I.T. and examined every document he
could find relevant to the history of Lisp and also interviewed
everyone he could. He is now Professor of Computer Science at the
University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Erlangen, Germany, where his group
works on AI. His history of Lisp is also
Thanks to firstname.lastname@example.org for this reference and bio.
- A reflective Lisp. The Lisp system was based on an infinite tower
of Lisp interpreters.
- AutoLisp (Autocad)
- Common Lisp
- The result of a standardization
effort, which began in the early 1980s. This is a highly
portable, industrial strength Lisp with a variety of implementations and a wealth of tools and applications.
- Elisp (EMACS)
- The object oriented programming facility of Zetalisp. Major differences from the Common Lisp Object System include message
passing rather than generic functions (more like Smalltalk) and a different inheritence
- Franz Lisp
- This was a Lisp for conventional architectures, and the product
that launched Franz, Inc.
- This dialect was derived from BBN
Lisp and developed at Xerox. It was the base for some early
workstations. These systems had a nice comfortable user environment
using mouse and windows. The language lives on in Medley. Was also
the base for NoteCards, an early hypertext system. Commercialized as
- Lisp 1.5
- For reference see the book "LISP 1.5 Programmer's Manual, MIT Press"
- The Lisp Object-Oriented Programming System. A close precursor
to the Common Lisp Object System (CLOS). A fairly portable version
is called PCL.
- MacLisp was developed at MIT and had much influence on the design
of Common Lisp. In particular, ZetaLisp and
Scheme were descendent from it. Paper:
"The Multics Maclisp
Compiler -- the > Basic Hackery, a Tutorial".
- The MAC in Maclisp had nothing to do with the Apple Macintosh,
which did not come onto the computer scene until later. Rather,
it referred to Project MAC, a research project at MIT which later
became known as the Laboratory for Computer Science. The acronym
MAC stood for no particular thing, but various meanings were
attached, such as: "Men and Computers", "Minds and Cognition",
"Machine-Aided Cognition", etc. (The symbolic algebra program
Macsyma was originally written at Project MAC in Maclisp, hence
the MAC in its name.)
(Thanks to Kent Pitman for the derivation of the name.)
- Standard Lisp
- Widely ported. Used for REDUCE (a Computer
Algebra application). See: The Standard
- The implementation language for the Symbolics Lisp Machines. Has its roots