Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ordering a Lisp machine

Just sent off the Paypal payment for a MacIvory II system with 2.6 MW of memory. I'm hoping also to get a Symbolics keyboard, although Symbolics is apparently out of the ADB box that allows the keyboard to be used with the vintage Macs.

It was a tough call whether to splurge for this or, for about twice the money, a new MacBook Pro. I'm hoping the Symbolics machine will be much more entertaining.

My main idea of a project is to use the Lisp Machine as a Chaos FILE host, in order to allow development on the CADR simulator with a versioned file system, without having to simulate and learn ITS or TOPS-20.  To get that to work, I probably will need to do a little bit of investigation to understand how the Symbolics box gets configured to talk on the network, what Chaos packets look like on the Ethernet, how to get those to my Python/Lisp code on the modern machine, and, for data security what would be needed to talk to a CD-ROM drive on a remote computer, or to use a remote computer to do backups (to a simulated tape drive?).  In order to get 2.6 MW of NuBus memory, I had to choose a Mac config without a CD-ROM drive, and I'm not too excited about trying to get an external SCSI drive for this old machine. Backing up to floppies is another thing I don't want to relive.

Some other things I'm looking forward to are Zmail, Concordia (to generate HTML output, anyone?) and Document Examiner,  using CLIM, and grokking the Symbolics compiler(s).