Wiki Home

Symbolics Machine

Namespace: VFP
Symbolics was a manufacturer of LispMachines. Still highly collectible, and easy to buy for under $1000USD.

Symbolics Lisp Machine Museum:
Symbolics was a maker of Lisp Machines. They are still selling a software emulation running on DEC Alpha systems. The emulation is called OpenGenera.

The operating system is called GeneraOs. Genera is completely written in Lisp - networking, graphics, device drivers, applications - everything. Some systems are still running on the Internet. The operating system provides for example TCP/IP, DNS client and server, mail client and server, X11, and many more Internet-based services. In fact the company Symbolics was the first organization ever to have a domain name - in 1985. A popular application is CL-HTTP, a web server written in Common Lisp. The author of CL-HTTP is John Mallery from the MIT AI Lab.

There was another operating system for Symbolics' Lisp Machines called Minima. It was developed for real-time systems like AT&T's ATM switches.

Symbolics built their own microprocessor - the Ivory - specially optimized to run Lisp software. Ivory-based machines were for example:

* XL400, a workstation with a VME bus and a megapixel console with mouse.
* XL1200, a workstation with a VME bus and a megapixel console with mouse. Symbolics also created high-end graphics cards for the XL1200 called FrameThrower.
* XL1201, a pizza box workstation with megapixel console.
* UX400, a VME bus card for SUNs.
* UX1200, a VME bus card for SUNs.
* MacIvory I, a set of NuBus card for Macs.
* MacIvory II, a set of NuBus card for Macs.
* MacIvory III, a NuBus card for Macs. One very large Nubus card (plus a daughter card) had space for the Ivory processor and 8MW of memory.
* NXP1000, a pizza box machine without console. Used via X11.

Typical applications for these machines:

* large and complex ArtificialIntelligence software development environments like KEE or KnowledgeCraft.
* AI applications like the credit card transaction checking software from AmericanExpress, Cyc, Metal, ...
* documentation authoring with Concordia, the first large-scale commercial Hyper Text system.
* 3D graphics with the S-Graphics suite. Used in computer games, movies and tv spots. Later S-Graphics has been ported to SGIs and NT machines. IZWare sells a system called Mirai, which is a rewrite.
* 3D CAD applications like ICAD.
* ECAD systems for chip design.
* ComputerAlgebra with Macsyma.
* Image Processing with Scope.
* Neural Network development with Plexi.
* Frontends to super computers like Thinking Machine's Connection Machine.
Category Lisp