Symbolics Lisp Machines

Playlists: '19c3' videos starting here / audio / related events

Are you tired of buffer overflows? Do you wonder why, when there's a bug, you can't just click on the stack trace, and an editor window with the faulty source pops up - for all parts of the system? Are you sick of losing your uptime because you can't upgrade the kernel without booting?

Meet the Lisp Machines, a family of computers that were running an OS written entirely in Lisp, right down to the hardware. Not only were buffer overflows a problem completely unknown, also the availability of the complete source code at the click of the mouse made for a system of great hack value unmatched by any of the systems available. Remind you, that was at a time before Apple released the Mac.

This workshop gives an overview of the history of Lisp machines, their implementation principle, tries to look into reasons why such a superior system failed in the market, and gives a demonstration of a running Symbolics MacIvory (if we can make it work again in time).