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By Guy L. Steele Jr., Richard P. Gabriel

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Extra resources for [Article] The Evolution of Lisp

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Backed by venture capital, Lucid adopted a different strategy from that of the other Common Lisp companies. Instead of starting with the Spice Lisp source code, Lucid wrote an implementation of Common Lisp from scratch; moreover, it adopted an OEM strategy. (The OEM idea is to make arrangements with a computer (hardware) company to market and sell Lisp under its own name. ) Lucid quickly struck OEM deals with Sun, Apollo, and Prime. This was possible because Lucid traded on the strength of the names of its founders and the fact that it was writing a Common Lisp from scratch and would, therefore, be the first true Common Lisp.

Gabriel and Steele, Evolution of Lisp 30 Though one might think a free, good-quality product would easily beat an expensive betterquality product, this proved false, and the Common Lisp companies thrived despite their no-cost competitor. It turned out that better performance, better quality, commitment by developers to moving ahead with the standard, and better service were more important than no price tag. , was already in business selling Franz Lisp, the MacLisp-like Lisp dialect used to transport a version of Macsyma called Vaxsyma.

So, precisely because Lisp is so expressive, it is very hard to write fast programs, though it is easy to write pretty ones. Gabriel and Steele, Evolution of Lisp 3 36 Evolution of Some Specific Language Features In this section we discuss the evolution of some language features that are either unique to Lisp or uniquely handled by Lisp. 1 The Treatment of NIL (and T) Almost since the beginning, Lisp has used the symbol nil as the distinguished object that indicates the end of a list (and which is therefore itself the empty list); this same object also serves as the false value returned by predicates.

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