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History of Lisp

The history of LISP according to McCarthy’s memory in 1978, presented at the ACM SIGPLAN History of Programming Languages Conference.

This paper concentrates on the development of the basic ideas of LISP and distinguishes two periods - Summer 1956 through Summer 1958 when most of the key ideas were developed (some of which were implemented in the FORTRAN based FLPL), and Fall 1958 through 1962 when the programming language was implemented and applied to problems of artificial intelligence. After 1962, the development of LISP became multi-stranded, and different ideas were pursued in different places.