Re: lisp exe compiler

William D Clinger <>
12 May 1997 00:24:19 -0400

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From: William D Clinger <>
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: 12 May 1997 00:24:19 -0400
Organization: Northeastern University
References: 97-05-081 97-05-130
Keywords: Lisp

> [I've never seen a Lisp that compiled stand-alone executables. Dunno
> why not. -John]

MacScheme+Toolsmith, introduced in 1986, generated stand-alone
executables for the Macintosh. The smallest executables were about 75
kilobytes on disk; an Emacs-like editor that I wrote and still use
occasionally was 231 kilobytes. To the end-user there were no visible
differences between an application written in Scheme and one written
in Pascal or C.

A few implementations of Common Lisp acquired similar abilities during
the late 1980's, but the smallest executables were usually on the
order of a megabyte or more because Common Lisp was designed in such a
way that most of its pieces depend upon most of the other pieces. (Chris Reedy) wrote:
> Therefore, the market for Lisp for stand-alone executables is too
> limited, making the whole idea uneconomic.

That pretty much sums up what happened to MacScheme+Toolsmith.
Another important factor was the competition from Coral Common Lisp,
especially after Apple bought Coral Software and changed the name to
Macintosh Common Lisp. That was an extremely good implementation.

(John Ulrich and I wrote most of MacScheme+Toolsmith)

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