Where Did Lisp Come From?

The Lisp family of languages is truly ancient, with a history that differs from other languages. We’ll need to travel far back in time to get to the beginning of it all.

A long time ago (way back in the 1940s), the Earth was covered by a giant ocean called the Panthalassic Ocean, along with a single barren land mass named Pangaea. In this unforgiving environment, the first computer programs evolved, written in pure machine language (or “ones and zeros,” as they say).

These protolanguages were tightly bound to specific computer systems, such as the ENIAC, the Zuse Z3, and other early vacuum-tube contraptions. Often, these early computers were so primitive that “programming” them involved simply flipping switches or patching ...

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