Happy New Year and Happy 50th Birthday to Lisp!
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Well, I guess January 1, 2008 isn't really the "official" birthday of Lisp since it's hard to pin the "birth" of a programming language to a specific date. In fact, John McCarthy's own History of Lisp dates Lisp's prehistory as beginning in 1956 with the first Lisp implementation begun in 1958. So, since we don't have an "official" date for the implementation in 1958, today is as good a time as any to wish Lisp a happy 50th birthday. I've talked before about why Lisp is special as a programming language (see my posts The Lisp Difference, Common Lisp is the Borg of programming languages, The Most Important Idea in Computer Science), but Alan Kay really summarized it best:
"... that was the big revelation to me when I was in graduate school - when I finally understood that the half page of code on the bottom of page 13 of the Lisp 1.5 manual was Lisp in itself. These were "Maxwell's Equations of Software!" This is the whole world of programming in a few lines that I can put my hand over."So, what more fitting birthday tribute to Lisp than that page from the Lisp 1.5 Programmer's Manual: