[FoRK] Larry Masinter talk today: origins of Lisp at PARC & modern Medley

Gregory Alan Bolcer greg at bolcer.org
Fri Dec 11 18:11:29 PST 2020

Jim Cunningham of Netscape Server and WebDAV fame, after his time at 
Netscape started a Web application company that did server side Lisp Web 

I'm not a big fan of server-side Javascript, but when they did server 
side lips back them for Web apps, I thought it was brilliant.


On 12/11/2020 5:57 PM, Ken Meltsner wrote:
> JavaScript is close to Lisp in many ways -- a prototype-based object
> system, not the more common class-based, makes it much more amenable to
> self-mutilation.
> If you can implement "an extended subset" of Common Lisp in ~100KB
> (compressed) [ParenScript -- ClojureScript is bigger.], I'd think there had
> to be quite a bit of shared genetics.
> I didn't realize just how much Lispian genetic material is in JavaScript,
> though -- Brendan Eich was hired to put Scheme into Netscape's browser
> originally, and for various reasons borrowed heavily from Self and other
> Lisp-like languages after a strategic deal with Sun resulted in
> "JavaScript" in the browser instead.
> Pretty good paper on the history of JavaScript (as well as other
> interesting languages) at this year's History of Programming Languages
> conference.
> ParenScript:
> https://common-lisp.net/project/parenscript/
> https://gitlab.common-lisp.net/parenscript/parenscript
> HOPL IV paper on JavaScript:
> https://dl.acm.org/doi/pdf/10.1145/3386327
> Disclaimer: I work for Oracle which acquired the trademark on JavaScript
> when it acquired Sun.
> Ken Meltsner
> On Fri, Dec 11, 2020 at 2:29 PM Stephen D. Williams <sdw at lig.net> wrote:
>> I just saw Larry Masinter a few years ago, with his wife I think, at the
>> decentralized computing event in SF I believe.  He and I
>> first talked for hours at an IETF plenary in Washington, DC when I was
>> part of the Presence & IM working group, circa 1999.  I was
>> representing myself helping to try to standardize an open BuddyList/IM
>> approach.  Barry Appelman walked into the meeting with
>> representatives of each faction where I was already sitting.  That might
>> have come out better had Larry been interested.
>> I remember him justifying CRLF in IETF protocols, security requirements,
>> etc.
>> I dabbled in Lisp / ELisp, but not like you guys.  I diversified in Forth,
>> Postscript (and my own implementation of a
>> Postscript-like language to do a pre-web text-based scrolling browser-like
>> forms app with scripting embedded in the page), C++, etc.
>> The ability of Javascript to hack its own environment, including HTML /
>> DOM, creating new language abilities, reminds me a bit of
>> Lisp.  Other than Forth and Postscript, I can't think of another language
>> that allows that so much self-hackery.  OK, I'm leaving
>> Ruby out deliberately.
>> Stephen
>> On 12/8/20 10:30 AM, Rohit Khare wrote:
>>> Short notice, as it's today at 3PM Pacific:
>>> https://www.meetup.com/LispNYC/events/vqhmbpybcqblb/
>>> I'm looking forward to learning more, but also seeing how Larry's making
>>> the most of his post-Adobe career. I was glad to see him at the Computer
>>> History Museum last year, with the same sparkle in his eye :)
>>> Stay safe,
>>>     Rohit
>>> PS. The event link isn't resolving for me, so LMK if you make it:
>> https://meet.lisp.nyc/LarryMasinterTheMedleyInterlispProjectStatusAndPlans
>>> Medley Interlisp is the environment from the old Xerox Lisp machines,
>> which
>>>> was spun out to a company called Envos, which then turned into Venue.
>>>> It was once a commercial software development environment aimed at the
>>>> 1980s AI market, and it contained many influential ideas. Notecards, for
>>>> example, was a conceptual predecessor of Apple's Hypercard, and D-EDIT
>> and
>>>> S-EDIT are sort of the canonical ancestral structure editors.
>> Masterscope
>>>> and the "file package" included system-management tools that combined
>>>> features of version control and build systems, with comprehensive cross
>>>> referencing support.
>>>> Medley was the latest release of the Xerox Lisp environment, before the
>>>> whole environment was renamed Medley. It was originally written in
>>>> Interlisp (a dialect separate from the MACLISP/Common Lisp tradition,
>> with
>>>> its own ancestry), but later, Common Lisp also became part of the
>>>> environment. Medley includes WYSIWYG text editor (TEdit), email
>> organizer
>>>> (Lafite), performance tools (Spy) and many other libraries and user
>>>> contributed code (from the 1980s).
>>>> The 1992 ACM Software System Award, to Daniel G. Bobrow, Richard R.
>>>> Burton, L. Peter Deutsch, Ronald M. Kaplan, Larry Masinter, Warren
>> Teitelman
>>>> for their pioneering work in programming environments that integrated
>>>> source-language debuggers, fully compatible integrated
>>>> interpreter/compiler, automatic change management, structure-based
>> editing,
>>>> logging facilities, interactive graphics, and analysis/profiling tools
>> in
>>>> the Interlisp system.
>>>> At this point the base system is usable enough on 64-bit OSes and quite
>>>> fast (A $40 pi runs Lisp > 150 times faster than a $30,000 Xerox 1108 in
>>>> 1982).
>>>> https://interlisp.org
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>> --
>> *Stephen D. Williams*
>> Founder: VolksDroid, Blue Scholar Foundation
>> 650-450-8649 <tel:650-450-8649> | fax:703-995-0407 <fax:> | sdw at lg.net
>> <mailto:sdw at lig.net> | https://VolksDroid.org
>> <https://VolksDroid.org> | https://BlueScholar.org <
>> https://BlueScholar.org> | https://sdw.st/in
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