Tuesday, October 25, 2011

John McCarthy, RIP

October has been a sad month for developers: Steve Jobs, Dennis Ritchie (co-creator of C), and now the creator of Lisp. This xkcd seems apt.

Jamie Zawinski:

As the inventor of Lisp, the world’s second-oldest programming language, and coiner of the phrase “artificial intelligence”, it’s fair to say that (aside from Turing) there’s nobody whose contributions to computer science have had a bigger impact on my life.

Paul Graham (in 2008):

In 1958 these ideas were anything but obvious. In 1958 there seem to have been two ways of thinking about programming. Some people thought of it as math, and proved things about Turing Machines. Others thought of it as a way to get things done, and designed languages all too influenced by the technology of the day. McCarthy alone bridged the gap. He designed a language that was math. But designed is not really the word; discovered is more like it.

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As a Lisp programmer (and former C programmer) and Mac user for 20 years, it's been a terrible month for the luminaries of my world.

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