Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 23rd Oct 2017 09:55 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

We succeeded in running the Smalltalk-76 language on our vintage Xerox Alto; this blog post gives a quick overview of the Smalltalk environment. One unusual feature of Smalltalk is you can view and modify the system's code while the system is running. I demonstrate this by modifying the scrollbar code on a running system.

Smalltalk is a highly-influential programming language and environment that introduced the term "object-oriented programming" and was the ancestor of modern object-oriented languages. The Alto's Smalltalk environment is also notable for its creation of the graphical user interface with the desktop metaphor, icons, scrollbars, overlapping windows, popup menus and so forth. When Steve Jobs famously visited Xerox PARC, the Smalltalk GUI inspired him on how the Lisa and Macintosh should work.

Be sure to read the comments after the article itself, since it includes comments and clarifications from none other than Alan Kay himself.

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Comment by tidux
by tidux on Tue 24th Oct 2017 19:15 UTC
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The real reason you don't see live-updateable systems like that in common use is that it removes two things: the ability to run code derived from arbitrary languages (notably assembly and C/C++), and the ability for the OS or hardware vendor to exert control over the platform.

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