Apple Dylan Technology Release

Paul R Potts writes:

Apple Cambridge ran a preview program circa 1994 inviting interested developers to work with pre-release versions of Apple Dylan. This tool was the product of Apple Cambridge, a lab that had hired some of the best and brightest minds from the Lisp community.

Apple Dylan was best thought of as a proof-of-concept, prototyping several important complementary developments:

  • A highly dynamic and configurable IDE

  • A development tool that kept all source code entities in an object-oriented database

  • The Dylan language

  • An early version of the macro system

  • A runtime and debugging environment allowing remote debugging, compilation and remote execution

It was agonizingly slow, buggy, and not ready to use for serious work, but also very intriguing, inviting developers to believe that one day they could live in a development world that offered more than a nightmare of memory management, environments that don’t understand anything about the code you write with them, and compilers that throw away almost all of the knowledge they had about your code.

Apple Dylan was eventually made available for sale by Apple as the Apple Dylan Technology Release. The Apple Cambridge lab was closed and all employees let go. Digitool did some retrofitting to make the Technology Release work on the PowerPC platform, but that was it. All that remains are the t-shirts and the dream.

It is still possible to run Apple Dylan on MacOS 9.2.2. See Apple Dylan Today for more information.