[squeak-dev] 40 years ago, in a galaxy not far away ...
karlramberg at gmail.com
Tue Oct 2 17:09:44 UTC 2012
On Tue, Oct 2, 2012 at 12:53 PM, Bert Freudenberg <bert at freudenbergs.de> wrote:
> Alan Kay about the Fall of 1972:
> In Sept. within a few weeks of each other, two bets happened.
> One day, in a typical PARC hallway bullsession, Ted Kaehler, Dan Ingalls, and I were standing around talking about programming languages. The subject of power came up and the two of them wondered how large a language one would have to make to get great power. With as much panache as I could muster, I asserted that you could define the “most powerful language in the world” in “a page of code.” They said, “Put up or shut up.”
> It turned out to be more difficult than I had first thought for three reasons. First, I wanted the program to be more like McCarthy’s second non-recursive interpreter--the one implemented as a loop that tried to resemble the original 709 implementation of Steve Russell as much as possible. It was more “real.” Second, the intertwining of the “parsing” with message receipt--the evaluation of parameters which was handled separately in LISP--required that my object-oriented interpreter re-enter itself “sooner” (in fact, much sooner) than LISP required. And, finally, I was still not clear how send and receive should work with each other.
> The first few versions had flaws that were soundly criticized by the group. But by morning 8 or so, a version appeared that seemed to work [...]
The major differences from the official Smalltalk-72 of a little bit
later were that in the first version symbols were byte-coded and the
receiving of return of return-values from a send was symmetric—-i.e.
receipt could be like parameter binding—-this was particular useful
for the return of multiple values. For various reasons, this was
abandoned in favor of a more expression-oriented functional return
> Of course, I had gone to considerable pains to avoid doing any “real work” for the bet, but I felt I had proved my point. This had been an interesting holiday from our official “iconic programming” pursuits, and I thought that would be the end of it. Much to my surprise, only a few days later, Dan Ingalls showed me the scheme working on the NOVA. He had coded it up (in BASIC!), added a lot of details, such as a token scanner, a list maker, etc., and there it was-–running. As he liked to say: “You just do it and it’s done.”
> It evaluated “3 + 4” v_e_r_y s_l_o_w_l_y (it was “glacial”, as Butler liked to say) but the answer always came out 7. Well, there was nothing to do but keep going. Dan loved to bootstrap on a system that “always ran,” and over the next ten years he made at least 80 major releases of various flavors of Smalltalk.
> - Bert -
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