historical clarification

Francois-Rene Rideau fare@tunes.org
Mon, 15 Jan 2001 00:06:42 +0100

Dear Richard,
   sorry to bother you, but while discussing about LISP Machines with
friends (my project is to make an OS based on a LISPy high-level language,
and I've just bought one), I have stumbled on a minor historical question
about your LISP activity just before the GNU project started.

As documented in Steven Levy's "Hackers" (darn, only the first part of it
is available online, without the appendix where it is discussed,
and I haven't got a copy home, so I can't verify what exactly is said there),
while you were still at MIT, you spent your time reverse-engineering
Symbolics' proprietary code from its published documented interface,
and porting it in a way such that it could notably be used by competitors
from LMI.

Can you tell me the full story about that code?
What dialect of LISP and/or assembler was your code written in?
What systems could it run on? Did you write it on MACLISP? On CADR machines?
What was the compatibility between the code and the various existing
LISP systems? What was the mutual compatibility between these systems?
What was the license for that code and who owned it?
As I understand it, the MIT owned that code, and let LMI use it;
did LMI eventually buy it and turn it into proprietary software?
Does this code still exist for peruse, somewhere?
When exactly did these events happen, and for how long?
How did they impact the eventual birth of GNU, both politically
(free software vs proprietary software) and technically (C vs LISP)?

Sorry to raise these old stories once more.

Maybe we'll meet in Paris in a few weeks.

May the LAMBDA be will you.

PS: did the FSF make an official stance against the new tax on blank media
that was recently voted in France?

[ François-René ÐVB Rideau | Reflection&Cybernethics | http://fare.tunes.org ]
[  TUNES project for a Free Reflective Computing System  | http://tunes.org  ]
Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and
those who dare not, are slaves.
		-- George Gordon Noel Byron (1788-1824), [Lord Byron]