Updated: 11/16/2019 by Computer Hope
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Short for list processor, Lisp is a high-level programming language created by John McCarthy in 1958. It is the second-oldest programming language still in modern use, younger by one year than Fortran. Lisp was used in AI (artificial intelligence) research starting in 1958, and is still used today.

As its name implies, the primary data structure of Lisp is the list. Every Lisp program is itself a list, therefore Lisp programs are naturally suited to generating other Lisp programs.

Lisp dialects

Since the introduction of LISP 1, there have been many different dialects of Lisp. Below is list of the major dialects of Lisp.

  • LISP 1 - Initial release of LISP.
  • LISP 1.5 - First widely used and distributed version of LISP.
  • Stanford LISP - LISP developed at Stanford AI Lab for PDP-10 systems using TOPS-10 operating system.
  • MACLISP - LISP for PDP-10 and Multics systems.
  • InterLisp - Lisp for PDP-10 systems running the TENEX operating system.
  • Franz Lisp - Based on MACLISP for DEC VAX minicomputer.
  • PSL (Portable Standard Lisp)
  • ZetaLisp
  • LeLisp
  • Scheme
  • CL (Common Lisp) - Introduced in 1984, Common Lisp is a combination of previous Lisp dialects and a successor to MACLISP.
  • Dylan
  • EuLisp
  • SBCL (Steel Bank Common Lisp)
  • ANSI Common Lisp
  • ACL2
  • Clojure
  • GOAL (Game Oriented Assembly Lisp)
  • Arc
  • LFE (Lisp Flavored Erlang)
  • Nu
  • Hy

How to install Lisp on an Apple or PC

Apple computer users

To install Lisp on an Apple computer, install MacPorts on the computer if not already installed. Once MacPorts is installed, open the Terminal, and run sudo port install clisp to start the install.

Windows computer users

To install Lisp on a PC running Windows, visit the ANSI Common Lisp SourceForge site, and download the latest version of Clisp. For example, if you were getting version 2.49, you would open the 2.49 folder, then download and install the clisp-2.49-win32-mingw-big.exe file.

Linux computer users

To install Lisp on a Linux computer, visit the Linux package page for your distribution of Linux at the CLISP website.

Should I use "Lisp" or "LISP" in my writing?

When LISP 1 was introduced, it was written as all uppercase. Today, Lisp is written as proper case with a capital "L" and lowercase "isp." Unless you're writing about the early versions of LISP, use "Lisp" in your writing.

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