- What is this?
- This is some information about one of MIT's Lisp machines and some
notes on lisp machines in general. Lisp machines are a class of computers
which were designed to run the LISP language. They generally run LISP
from top to bottom, including the entire operating system and drivers.
There are better places for to learn the history, but in the mid '70s
the "AI Labs" at MIT designed a machine called the CADR. This was
their second machine and the first one was called the CONS.
MIT built a handful (20-30?) CADR machines and used them extensively.
Later when Symbolics Corporation was formed they cleaned up the CADR
design and sold it as the LM-2 (affectionately known by Symbolics
employees as "the dog" because of it's blazing speed).
- So what is here at this site?
- I have resurrected some of the software from the original CADR and
written a microcode simulator which will boot the original software. I and
some others are working on getting the "simulated CADR" to talk via the
network to a file server and a simulated PDP-10 running ITS. You can
find the CADR software here.
As we make progress I'll try and keep the site up to date. Our current goal is
to get the CADR booted and talking to a file server.
- Who owns the lisp code?
- MIT hold the copyrights to the CADR source code. They have graciously
allowed me to redistribute the software with a copyright notice.
- I thought all the old lisp machine code was lost!
- Yes, many people told me it was lost and never to be found. Don't
believe what you hear on the net (or anywhere :-). It turns out it was
all waiting to be found - you just had to know where to look.
I have been able to find tapes from various people and a large collection
of backup tapes from MIT. In time I suspect all of the old AI Labs
files will be recovered and made available. This includes all of the
CADR files and software.
- What about Symbolics?
- Symbolics split off from the AI labs and formed a corporation. The
created the LM-2, the 3600 line and the Ivory based machines. They hold
the copyrights to software they created. The have not, to date, allowed
any of their software to be distributed.
Symbolics today is owned by one person and is really just a maintaince
group for old lisp machines. The sole owner recently passed away and all
of the software is now in probate. A group of ex-symbolics people are working
to free the software and get it released. We're hoping for something
in the summer of 2006.