My first exposure to Lisp was in the summer of 1981. I was taking a summer school intro to computers. The course was taught on a PDP-11, and for the first few weeks we programmed in Macro-11 assembly language. For the last couple of weeks they introduced Lisp.
Frankly, I wasn't impressed.
The course started by talking about linked lists and how you could
navigate them with
cdr. We then
went on to build more complicated structures like alists and
plists. This was an old-fashioned lisp, so we used things
putprop to set symbol
The subject matter wasn't difficult to understand (though chasing pointers around list structure is error prone). Since we had just been learning Macro-11, it was natural to play with linked list structure in assembly code. We wrote assembly code to look things up in a plist.
My impression was that Lisp was centered around manipulating these
rather cumbersome data structures called
Linked lists of cons cells have obvious disadvantages when compared
to arrays. This makes the language tedious to work with.
The summer school course was my first “real” college course in computers. I was put off. “Real” computing wasn't as much fun as I had hoped it would be. I definitely wouldn't be considering it as a major, let alone a career. I wasn't interested in Lisp at all.to be continued