Subject: Re: something i don't understand...
From: (Rob Warnock)
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 2005 06:45:40 -0600
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>
Ulrich Hobelmann  <> wrote:
| Tom Russ wrote:
| > Unfortunately, I don't have time to elaborate tonight, but it often
| > boils down to Lisp not being popular, leading to management fear of (a)
| > the unknown (b) difficulty in finding lisp programmers to build and
| > especially maintain the system.
| I'm not sure that the above are valid points, given that I've never even 
| heard of Mumps (unless it's the name for some kind of disease), nor that 
| there exist people who can program it.  Lisp is at least known to most 
| people, even if they think it's a weird language.

MUMPS [Massachusetts (General Hospital) Utility Multi-Programming System]
is now called simply "M" (the name change came during the ANSI standard-
ization process). <>
has some historical notes. One commercial version was MIIS (Meditech
Interactive Information System); another was DEC PDP-11 MUMPS; there
also are/were several free versions, since it was originally funded by
an NIH(?) grant which required that it be public domain. For quite a
number of years, it was *the* language to use for hospital information
systems, and still has a number of devotees today. For more background,
see <>.

One of the reasons for its popularity [besides NIH & the VA practically
*mandating* it for a while for funded projects!] was that "global"
variables in MUMPS -- which are a kind of tree-structured associative
array [usually stored as B-trees] -- are actually stored in a database
on disk, one of the earliest (1966) languages with an "implicit object
store" that I know of.

The Wikipedia article <> contains
a lot more of the history, lists key language features, has some
code examples, and a number of frequent criticisms of the language.
Lispers will instantly recognize several of them:   ;-}

- "The syntax and terms are dramatically different from C."

- "Unusual control constructs."

- "Skilled programmers are hard to find and even harder to replace
  when they retire."


Rob Warnock			<>
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