「Symbolics はなぜ失敗したか」を読んだ

「Symbolics はなぜ失敗したか」を読んだ。(Why Did Symbolics Fail? « Dan Weinreb’s Weblog。)
作者の履歴はDan Weinreb


At the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab, fifteen researchers shared a computer with a .001 GHz CPU and .002 GB of main memory.


The primary customers used Lisp machines as software development environments.
The secondary customers used Lisp machines to run applications that had been written by some other party.

ソフトウェア開発環境としての Lisp マシンは成功していたと、この後書いてある。

Symbolics had a world-class software development environment for Fortran, C, Ada, and other popular languages, with amazing semantics-understanding in the editor, a powerful debugger, the ability for the languages to call each other, and so on? We put a lot of work into those, but they were never publicized or advertised.

開発環境としてどんなにすごかったのか知りたいな。 「never publicized or advertised.」なのが残念。

The world changed out from under us very quickly.


Lisp was invented that allowed good Lisp implementations to run on conventional hardware; not quite as good as ours, but good enough for most purposes. So the real value-added of out special Lisp architecture was suddenly diminished.


And the workstation vendors got to piggyback on the ever-faster, ever-cheaper CPU’s being made by Intel and Motorola and IBM, with whom it was hard for Symbolics to keep up.


The secondary market often had reasons that they needed to use workstation (and, later, PC) hardware. Often they needed to interact with other software that didn’t run under Symbolics.


Symbolics machines came to be seen as “special-purpose hardware” as compared to “general-purpose” Unix workstations (and later Windows PCs).


rule-based expert systems,

これってどういう意味だろう?→(エキスパートシステム - Wikipedia)

Meanwhile, back at Symbolics, there were huge internal management conflicts, leading to the resignation of much of top management, who were replaced by the board of directors with new CEO’s who did not do a good job, and did not have the vision to see what was happening.


Symbolics was tremendously fun. We had a lot of success for a while, and went public. My colleagues were some of the skilled and likable technical people you could ever hope to work with. I learned a lot from them. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

After I left, I thought I’d never see Lisp again. But now I find myself at ITA Software, where we’re writing a huge, complex transaction-processing system (a new airline reservation system, initially for Air Canada), whose core is in Common Lisp. We almost certainly have the largest team of Common Lisp programmers in the world. Our development environment is OK, but I really wish I had a Lisp machine again.

結局 Lisp 自体は大好きだし、今もお仕事にされているのだな。