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Subject: [IP] more on Code Monkeys, not.

  • From: Dave Farber <>
  • To:
  • Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2004 08:08:04 -0500

Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2004 21:29:43 -0500
From: Bob Frankston <>
Subject: RE: [IP] more on Code Monkeys, not.
To: 'Peter Wayner' <>,,

Actually Unix and C (son of BCPL and PL/1) come out of the same building as
Scheme and Java comes more from the 8th (AI) than the 5th (MAC/Multics).

You had to be there ...

Java does indeed come more from the closed world of LISP et al while C#
allows you to deal with the Iron while retaining the capabilities of Lisp.
That's why it (and its CL cousins) are my languages of choice these days.

More influential for me was Art Evan's PAL -- Pedagogical Algorithmic
Language which might be considered one of the predecessors of Scheme in
having lexical binding. Its value was that we'd look at the source code and
then warp it into Lisp syntax and play with the environment within the
language. The major lesson was to get past the syntactic differences so we
could focus on the language.

Of course there were other languages. In the mid 60's there was SNOBOL (some
guy named Farber was involved and then appeared later when I was studying

I don't understand how people learn about computers without learning lots of
languages and doing their own implementations to see how it maps to the iron
while retaining the abstract concepts.

Learning the interplay between abstract concepts and linguistic manipulation
is a valuable philosophic lesson -- one that's hard to explain to those
without operational experience.

-----Original Message-----
From: Peter Wayner []
Sent: Sunday, February 15, 2004 20:32
Subject: Re: [IP] more on Code Monkeys, not.

 >I try to avoid words like "foreign" -- the US isn't that special. If
 >anything its triumph is due to its disorder and thus openness to bad ideas
 >that turn out to be great ideas.

Indeed, I often find greater differences between the two coasts of
the US. The MIT school of programming is still heavily influenced by
folks like Ableson and Sussman. Their love of LISP and Scheme is
burned into the brain of all of the freshmen in MIT's CS department.

On the other hand, I often associate Unix and C with Berkeley even
though it came out of Bell Labs on the East Coast.

This distinction is not a serious one and far from accurate. C is now
the dominant paradigm with no specific geographical heritage,
although some of the Java folks like to talk about how it is really
Lisp with a bit of C painted on top to fool people.

In any case, I find that Lisp folks don't always work well with C
folks and vice versa. Some are mental adept enough to adapt, but many
either can't or don't want to.


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