Lisp Machine Video

Rainer Joswig has released a 44 Meg Quicktime video showing some of the features of the Lisp machine. I found this extremely nostalgic. The Lisp Machines did all this in the middle 80s; and large portions of it in the late 70s.

The announcement in his blog implies that this is one of a series so he may have already said some of the following.

One thing to note is the integration of four interface styles. One style is a classic editor development loop. The second style is a rich graphic user interface; you need to wait till the little demo of the drawing editor to see that kind of UI. The third is an semi-english language like interface; you can see that in some of the commands he types.

The fourth, and this one is waiting for somebody to rediscover it, is that everything that is rendered into the output typescript retains knowledge of what type it is. That allows the mouse to move over the transcripts and everything that was output is “alive.” For example when his mouse moves over a symbol the system knows that it’s a symbol and the menus offered are appropriate for a symbol. This is, no surprisingly, true for small small types and large types. So when his mouse moves over the print out of, say, a system definition the menus then offer up operations like patching that system.

All four UI stand on a single foundation; a bridge between the dynamic type of the objects in the system and various “presentations” of those objects into the UI. Interaction is then intermediated by the nature of those presentations. That allowed you to write commands that would be offered up to the user when a given gesture was made on an object of a given type that appears in a given style of presentation.

You can see some of the notation for that in the simple examples he goes thru. The first few examples differ only in the kind of UI the interaction takes place within.

The demo ends with an example of the integration of source control the mechanisms for patching running systems. These are the kinds of systems that we are now having to rediscover to be able to respond quickly when hackers find security flaws in our running systems.

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