Lisp diehards = Holocaust deniers

Hmm… it seems that the “Java = SUV of programming languages” posting has stirred up a bit of controversy over at Slashdot and right here on this server.  Some people read it as a personal endorsement of PHP, VB, and other semi-baked programming languages.  Actually my personal preference is a much darker, uglier, and more shameful secret:  Common Lisp, CLOS, plus an ML-like type inferencing compiler/error checker (with some things done in a sublanguage with Haskell semantics and Lisp syntax).  Common Lisp dates from around 1982 and ML from 1984.

I try to keep this preference concealed from young people who’ve been raised on a diet of C, Java, C#, Perl, etc.  They just wouldn’t find it credible that 20-year-old systems and ideas are actually better than the latest and greatest from Microsoft and Sun.

Imagine my delight in running into a friend yesterday.  She’s a 23-year-old graduate student in computer science at Harvard. Conversation rolled around to programming tools. Unprompted she said “What I think would be best is Common Lisp Object System with a modern type system”. I was stunned. I thought it was only dinosaurs like me that clung to Lisp.

I had a second ephiphany for the week… Believing that Lisp circa 1982 plus some mid-1980s ML tricks thrown in is better than all of the new programming tools (C#, Java) that have been built since then is sort of like being a Holocaust denier.

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