MicroWriter Redux.

I have decided to publish some of my “archaeological” work from last year on Cy Endfield’s MicroWriter.  The original objective was to produce a cycle-accurate emulator.  I do not currently have the free time to complete this project, so I will post my results here for anyone who might care to pick up the torch. [...]

Why Hypercard Had to Die

Update: Click here if you would like to try HyperCard yourself.
I was a Hypercard child – though our friendship was brief.
Our seventh-grade class was led into a room full of brand-new Macintosh Performas.  The day’s lesson was a crash course in the use of an uncomplicated yet marvelous program. With it, one [...]

The Five Types of Technological Standard

Technological standards may be usefully divided into five basic types:

4 – Standards arrived at by consensus.
Examples: Common Lisp.
3 – Standards imposed by dictatorial fiat.
Examples: Russian railroad gauge.
2 – Standards imposed through sudden, overwhelming, and indisputable technological supremacy over the previous state of the art.
Examples: Arabic numerals.  Sildenafil.
1 – Standards which inescapably [...]

Tim Daly on Symbolics Lisp Machines

Tim Daly on Symbolics and the elimination of the Compile-Pray-Debug Cycle:

“The Symbolics machine (its kittens all the way down…) gave me the insight that one of the most important parts of programming is the time it takes to “close the loop”. Start from the point of failure, find the failure in source code, fix the [...]

Posted in: Lisp, NonLoper, SoftwareArchaeology, Symbolics by Stanislav 1 Comment

Symbolics Open Genera

Better screen shots from other people:
Ralf Moeller
Rainer Joswig

The Naming of Names

Perhaps you once took a university course in Operating Systems.  Or you think you did.
In reality, the course catalog ought to have read: “Dark Age Software Archaeology: A UNIX Case Study.“
But do we still call it archaeology if people are still building pyramids? Moreover, if architects continue to push the pyramid as the pinnacle of [...]

Posted in: Hot Air, NonLoper, SoftwareArchaeology by Stanislav 12 Comments

Secrets of the Symbolics Console: Part 2

Let’s take another look at the console. There are several boards inside, but this is the only one which deals in custom Symbolics protocols (as opposed to the widely-known intricacies of operating a black-and-white CRT.)

The rough annotations are my own. Click on the pictures for super-size (~10MB!) images.
Once again, the Phase Encoded Video decoder board:

A: [...]

Secrets of the Symbolics Console: Part 1

The machine does indeed power up and run:

But this is not enough.
The console is a museum piece. While a Lisp Machine circa 1986 might last for a reasonably long time between repairs, a CRT of the same vintage likely will not. Moreover, it is a pain to have around, even if it were indestructible. Wouldn’t [...]

“Lisp, Lisp, Lisp Machine, Lisp Machine is Fun!”

Complexity is the problem. Count the parts!

Charles Moore, the venerable inventor of FORTH, has this to say regarding the likely-dim future of technology:
Complexity is the problem. Moving it from hardware to software, or vice versa, doesn’t help. Simplicity is the only answer. There was a product many years ago called the Canon Cat. It was a simple, dedicated word processor; done very [...]

Posted in: SoftwareArchaeology, SoftwareSucks by Stanislav 3 Comments