Lisp Machines

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Lisp Machines, Inc. was a company formed in 1979 <!--or 1980?-->by Richard Greenblatt of MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory to build Lisp machines. It was based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

By 1979, the Lisp Machine Project at MIT, originated and headed by Greenblatt, had constructed over 30 CADR computersfor various projects at MIT. It was evident that it was time for the project to move from a university research to a company setting.Russell Noftsker, who had formerly been administrator of the MIT Artificial Intelligence lab some years previously and who hadsince started and run a small company, was convinced that computers based on the artificial intelligence language LISP had a bright future commercially. There were a number of ready customers who were anxious to get machines similar to ones they had seen at MIT.

Greenblatt and Noftsker had differing ideas about the structure and financing of the proposed company. Greenblatt believedthe company could be "bootstrapped", ie. financed practically from scratch from the order flow from customers (some of whomwere willing to pay in advance). This would mean that the principals of the company would retain control. Noftsker favoreda more conventional venture capital model, raising a considerable sum of money, but with the investors having controlof the company. The two negotiated at length, but neither would compromise.

The ensuing discussions of the choice rent the lab into two factions. In February,...
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