strangest systems I've sent email from

Rich Alderson RichA at
Thu Apr 28 13:48:21 CDT 2016

From: Liam Proven
Sent: Thursday, April 28, 2016 6:39 AM

BTW, an expansion for someone who missed a humorous point very early on:

"FTHI" means "For the humour-impaired", and was followed by numerous

> On 27 April 2016 at 20:15, Swift Griggs <swiftgriggs at>> wrote:

>> All "you guys" seemed to start out with math or EE background and filling
>> in the CS parts seems to be trivial for you. I look up to your generation,
>> believe it or not.

> I was an undergrad biologist. :-) I've never studied CS.
> But I think you have a point.

I received undergraduate and graduate degrees in historical linguistics; all
my computer science background is due to my own self-directed study--and I do
mean study.  I've read any number of primary papers and books in the field,
since that study made me better at using computers for what I really wanted to
do.  I've implemented compilers, and even my own Lisp interpreter, just for
the fun of it.

I am not one of the Lisp gods.  The closest I came was interviewing for a
systems programming job at the MIT AI Lab (dinner with Pat Winston at O'Hare
one late fall evening when he had a layover).  I went to work at Stanford the
next year.

I studied Lisp from the ground up:  Read the Weisman LISP 1.5 book, read the
LISP 1.5 Primer by McCarthy et al., read the sources to Portable Standard Lisp
and MDL (and the MDL books from MIT), read Abelson&Sussman and the Common Lisp
book (1st ed.).

At the same time, I read many papers in artificial intelligence of the 1970s
and early 1980s, most interested in natural language processing and knowledge

I've never done anything for money with either my degrees or my AI studies.
I've supported myself and my wife as a systems programmer on IBM and DEC big
iron, the latter eventually leading directly to working at the museum.

As you might imagine, I'm a good bit older than either of you; I started at
university (since you both want to equate "college" with "trade school"; in
the US, we usually say "go to college" even if the institution grants higher
degrees as well) before Liam was born.  I was married and in grad school by
the time Swift came along.

I'm sorry that Swift took amiss my intended humor, but it's sparked an
interesting long thread.


Rich Alderson
Vintage Computing Sr. Systems Engineer
Living Computer Museum
2245 1st Avenue S
Seattle, WA 98134

mailto:RichA at

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