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The History of Squeak

Back to the Future: The Story of Squeak, A Practical Smalltalk Written in Itself , by Dan Ingalls, Ted Kaehler, John Maloney, Scott Wallace, Alan Kay, at Apple Computer while doing this work, now at:

Walt Disney Imagineering, 1401 Flower St, PO Box 25020, Glendale CA 91221, dani@wdi.disney.com.

Why is this collection of objects called Smalltalk?

The name actually appeared before the first Smalltalk design, which was created in 1971. I had mentioned to someone that the "prose" of then current programming languages was lower than a cocktail party conversation, and that great progress would have been made if we could even get to the level of making "smalltalk". It then occured to me that this word was also a great pun for a language aimed at the world of small children.

As for hype: Another motive for "smalltalk" was the practice at the time of naming operating, and other, systems (which hardly did anything) after mighty indo-european gods, such as Thor, Zeus, Odin, etc. I figured that if Smalltalk ever did something neat, then people would be pleasantly surprised.

As related in the Early History of Smalltalk (in HOPL II, Addison Wesley, 1995), the actual start of today's Smalltalk was kind of accidental and was partly the result of a bet. -- Alan Kay

Release date history and class library size statistics

Smalltalk first run on Xerox Alto Workstations

Alan Kay wrote to the Squeak mailing list on 15 Jan. 2000

You will be interested to learn that the very first version of Smalltalk
(-72) had a completely extensible syntax (in fact the writing of a class
also automatically supplied the grammar). This worked very well, except ...
that too much freedom here leads to a Tower of Babel as far as other users
are concerned. This has also been the experience with the few other really
good extensible languages (like Ned Iron's IMP).
Extreme extensibility was removed in the next major design of
Smalltalk (-76) in favor of a syntax that could read by anyone, regardless
of how many classes had been defined ... I.e., getting stronger meanings
turned out to be more important in the end than making language structures
fit the task.
That being said, I think this process went too far with Smalltalk-80,
and needs more experimentation for the next generation, most of whom will
be "occasional scriptors", and who need more readable (especially
"gistable") code.