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Stanford LISP 1.6 family

by Paul McJones last modified 2023-11-29 15:35


Cover of Stanford Lisp 1.6 SAILON-28.3



Stanford LISP 1.6

"When Stanford received a PDP-6 [the original MacLISP developed at M.I.T.] was converted to run under the DEC monitor; several modifications and embellishments were performed and this LISP became LISP 1.6, also known as Stanford LISP. Stanford LISP was exported to the Irvine campus of the University of California becoming UCI LISP; at Irvine it was further modified and enhanced, receiving the editing and debugging packages of a different LISP strain called BBN LISP; BBN LISP soon became known as InterLISP. [John Allen, The TLC-LISP Documentation, The Lisp Company,1980]

"At Stanford in the 1960's, an early version of MacLisp was adapted to the PDP-6; this Lisp was called Lisp 1.6. The early adaptation was rewritten by John Allen and Lynn Quam; later compiler improvements were made by Whit Diffie. UCI Lisp was an extended version of Lisp 1.6 in which an Interlisp style editor and other programming environment improvements were made. UCI Lisp was used by some folks at Stanford during the early to mid-1970's, as well as at other institutions. In 1976 the MIT version of MacLisp was ported to the WAITS operating system by Richard Gabriel at the Stanford AI Laboratory (SAIL), which was directed at that time by John McCarthy. This dialect supplanted the Lisp 1.6 derivatives, including UCI Lisp. At the Heuristic Programming Project, under the direction of Edward Feigenbaum, Interlisp was the primary dialect. Cordell Green's automatic programming group (PSI) used Interlisp via remote login to a PDP-10 at Information Science Institute (ISI) in southern California." [Steele and Gabriel 1993]

Source code

  • Bruce G. Baumgart, archivist. SAILDART Archives, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Stanford University. online
    • [LSP,LSP] Whitfield Diffie? Contains various versions. [LSP,LSP] online at
    • [CMP,LSP] Whitfield Diffie? Compiler development directory? Contains various versions of the Stanford (COMPLR. and COMPLR.NEW) and Rutgers (ILISPC.RUT) compiler source, plus bug reports and email from Rick LeFaivre (Rutgers) to Whit Diffie. Also contains several versions of "A Brief Description of the Stanford Lisp Compiler", apparently by Diffie (CDOC, COMPLR.NOT) [CMP,LSP] online at
    • [LSP,SYS] Lynn H. Quam and Whitfield Diffie et al. Stanford Lisp 1.6. Various dates, circa June 1973. [LSP,SYS] online at


    • [CMP,SYS] Whitefield Diffie? More compiler development, 1973-1975. [CMP,SYS] online at
  • Lynn H. Quam and Whitfield Diffie et al. LISP 1.6. DECUS Library Program 10-59, May 1, 1973. Online at

    Although the DECUS Library Catalog lists this version as authored and submitted by Quam and Diffie, and last revised by Quam, the file lisp.lsp contains a startup banner of "Stanford Lisp 1.6 (Utah version) 1-May-73".

    Abstract from DECUS Library Catalog: "The interactive LISP 1.6 system has been developed for the PDP-10 at the Stanford University Artificial Intelligence project. It is assumed that the user is familiar with either some other LISP system or the LISP 1.5 Primer by Clark Weissman. This LISP 1.6 system has as a subset most of the features and functions of other LISP 1.5 systems. In addition, there are several new features such as an arbitrary precision integer package, an S-expression editor, up to 14 active input/output channels, the ability to control the size of memory spaces, a standard relocating loader assembly language or compiled programs, etc. This system uses an interpreter; however, there is also a compiler which produces machine code. Compiled functions are approximately ten times as fast and also take less memory space. The manual is organized in a functional manner. First the basic data structures are described; then the functions for operating on them. The appendices present more detailed information on the system, its internal structure, the compiler, and several auxiliary packages."

        1       25(7)   18-Jul-80 59.inf
        1      128(36)  17-Dec-73 alvine.lsp
       48     6144(36)  17-Dec-73 alvine.mac
      141    18048(36)  17-Dec-73 complr.
        7      896(36)  17-Dec-73 grin.
       21     2688(36)  17-Dec-73 lap.
       11     1408(36)  17-Dec-73 lisp.lsp
      150    19154(36)  17-Dec-73 lisp.mac
      130    16531(36)  17-Dec-73 loader.mac
       12     1536(36)  17-Dec-73 smile.
        1      128(36)  17-Dec-73 symmak.mac
       10     1280(36)  17-Dec-73 trace
  • Carl Engelman. MATHLAB. DECUS Library Program 10-142, November 7, 1969. Online at

    We include this item because it includes (parts of) a Stanford LISP 1.6 system and because it is interesting in its own right.

    Abstract from DECUS Library Catalog: "MATHLAB is an on-line system providing machine aid for the mechanical symbolic processes encountered in analysis. It is capable of performing, automatically and symbolically, such common procedures as simplification, substitution, differentiation, polynomial factorization, indefinite integration, direct and inverse Laplace transforms, the solution of linear differential equations with constant coefficients, the solution of simultaneous linear equations, and the inversion of matrices. It also supplies fairly elaborate bookkeeping facilities appropriate to its on-line operation."

        1       25(7)  29-Apr-75 142.inf
        1      128(36) 21-Nov-69 alvine.lsp
       31     3968(36) 21-Nov-69 alvine.mac
        3      302(36)  6-Apr-71 bhand1.lap
        1      128(36) 21-Nov-69 bignum.lsp
       29     3670(36) 20-Apr-71 bignum.mac
       14     1781(36)  7-Apr-71 bpre1.l
       40     5037(36)  7-Apr-71 brats1.l
       40     5072(36)  6-Apr-71 bsimp1.l
       18     2203(36) 14-Oct-70 celt6.l
      138    17664(36) 12-Nov-70 cmp47x.
       18     2304(36) 21-Nov-69 debug.
       14     1789(36) 22-Jul-71 dif8.l
       41     5176(36) 14-Jun-71 disp9.l
       33     4201(36) 11-Mar-71 fact6.l
        5      640(36) 21-Nov-69 grin.
       23     2879(36)  7-Oct-70 ilt2.l
       21     2597(36) 30-Sep-70 int2.l
       16     2048(36) 20-Apr-71 lap.
       11     1337(36) 19-Jan-72 lde6.l
        5      640(36) 21-Nov-69 lisp.lsp
      123    15743(36) 19-Mar-71 lisp.mac
        3      384(36) 21-Nov-69 lisp.txt
      129    16512(36) 21-Nov-69 loader.mac
        1      128(36)  5-Aug-70 macros.l2
       44     5619(36) 14-Jan-72 mat11.l
      449    57380(36) 19-Jan-72 mathla.sav
       58     7415(36) 23-Jul-71 mlab37.l
        9     1152(36) 21-Nov-69 smile.
        9     1117(36) 16-Mar-71 sol6.l
        1      128(36) 21-Nov-69 symmak.mac
       15     1873(36) 20-Apr-71 top9.l
        6      768(36) 29-Apr-71 trace.

    Includes MATHLAB.


  • Lynn Quam. LISP Display Functions. Operating Note Number 7, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Stanford University, February 15, 1967. PDF
  • Lynn H. Quam and John Allen. Lisp 1.6. Operating Note Number 28.1, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Stanford University, June 13, 1968, 23 pages. Copy belonging to Lynn H. Quam; missing page 19. PDF

    "Abstract: This note describes the LISP 1.6 system that runs on the PDP-6 computer in the Stanford A.I. Laboratory. The description is intended for readers who are generally familiar with the LISP 1.5.

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: The PDP-6 LISP system was developed at M.I.T. and adapted for the Stanford A.I. Project by John Allen. This is a revision of SAILON-28, which was an adaptation of M.I.T. A.I. Memo No. 116. '->' in the left hand margin indicates a new feature."

    This was commonly referred to as SAILON 28.1, for Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory Operating Note 28.1.

  • Lynn Quam. SMILE at LISP. Operating Note No. 41, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Stanford University, September 16, 1968, 7 pages. Copy belonging to Lynn H. Quam. PDF
  • Lynn H. Quam. Stanford A. I. Lisp 1.6 Manual. Operating Note Number 28.2, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Stanford University, December 9, 1968, 85 pages. Copy belonging to Lynn H. Quam; missing cover and pages 15-1, 15-2. PDF
  • L.H. Quam. A LISP Debugging System. March 18, 1969, 7 pages. Copy belonging to Lynn H. Quam. PDF
  • L.H. Quam. A User Modifiable LISP Scanner. June 12, 1969, 5 pages. Copy belonging to Lynn H. Quam. PDF
  • Lynn H. Quam. Stanford Lisp 1.6 Manual. Operating Note Number 28.3, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Stanford University, September 1969, 90 pages. Copy belonging to Lynn H. Quam. PDF

    "This version received wide distribution and had the famous NIL-paper cover."
    [Lynn H. Quam, personal communication to Paul McJones, June 28, 2005]

  • Lynn H. Quam and Whitfield Diffie. Stanford Lisp 1.6 Manual. Operating Note Number 28.6, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Stanford University, undated, 128 pages. Copy belonging to Lynn H. Quam. PDF
  • Lynn H. Quam and Whitfield Diffie. Stanford LISP 1.6 Manual. Operating Note 28.7, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Stanford University, September 1969. DSK:LISP.WD [S,DOC] at

    The SAIL Operating Notes Guide (SAILON. in [BIB,DOC] at includes this entry:

    SAILON-28.7, Lynn H. Quam and Whitfield Diffie, "Stanford LISP 1.6 Manual", September 1969, (DSK:LISP.WD[S,DOC]). Updated 1976. Describes the LISP interpreter and compiler, the editor ALVINE, and other aspects of this venerated list processing system.


  • Anthony Hearn. REDUCE Users' Manual. AIM-50, Stanford Artificial Intelligence Project and ITP-247, Institute of Theoretical Physics, February 1967, 53 pages. PDF

    "The program is written completely in the language LISP 1.5 and may therefore be run with little modification on any computer possessing a LISP 1.5 compiler or interpreter.

    Versions of the program have operated at several batch-processing IBM 7090 installations, on the time-shared AN/FSQ-32 of System Development Corporation, and the time-shared PDP-6 of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Project. This report is intended primarily for users of the system on the latter machine (referred to as REDUCE2) and on the Stanford IBM 7090 (REDUCE1)."

  • Anthony Hearn. REDUCE User's Manual. Report No. ITP-292, Institute of Theoretical Physics, Department of Physics, Stanford University, 1967, revised 1968.
  • Anthony Hearn. REDUCE: A User-oriented Interactive System for Algebraic Simplification.
    • Technical Report AIM-57, Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Stanford, California, 1967. PDF
    • In Interactive Systems for Experimental Applied Mathematics, pages 79-90 (edited by M. Klerer and J. Reinfelds, Academic Press, New York, 1968). ACM DL
  • John Allen. ALVINE. Operating Note No. 1, Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, October 18, 1968, 5 pages. Gift of Ruth M. Davis on behalf of John R. Allen. PDF

    "A new LISP editor, Alvine, is now available. ..."

  • A.C. Hearn. REDUCE 2 User's Manual. Memo AIM-133, Stanford Artificial Intelligence Project, October 1970. DSK:REDUCE.XER [CSP,DOC] at
  • Anthony  C.  Hearn. REDUCE 2 Symbolic Mode Primer. University of Utah. Operating Note 62, Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, October, 1970. DSK:RLISP.XER [CSP,DOC] at
  • A.C. Hearn. REDUCE 2 Users Manual. Report UCP-19, Symbolic Computation Group, Department of Computer Science, University of Utah, 1973. DSK:REDUCE.ACH [AIM,DOC] at

    "This  copy of the REDUCE 2 User's Manual includes all updates through March 30, 1974."

  • David Canfield Smith. MLISP User's Manual. Memo AI-84, Artificial Intelligence Project, Computer Science Department, School of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford University, January 1969, 41 pages. Copy belonging to Lynn H. Quam. PDF


UCI LISP (University of California at Irvine)

Source code



Rutgers LISP 1.6

Source code

  • Bruce G. Baumgart, archivist. SAILDART Archives, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Stanford University. online
    • [RUT,LSP] Rutgers University version of UCI version of Stanford Lisp 1.6. Various dates, circa 1978. [RUT,LSP] online at
      File READ.ME contains "Files on this directory are on LISP UDP May 11, 1980 - rpg. The directory [RUT,LSP] contains the Rutgers University Lisp system. This is a modification of ILISP produced by Eric Lefaivre@Rutgers-10. Many bugs in the compiler have been reparied and many new features added to other parts of the system. These are explained in ILISP.MAN[RUT,LSP]. Whit Diffie WD@SAIL"


  • R. LeFaivre. Rutgers/UCI LISP Manual.
    • Online manual, [RUT,LSP]ILISP.MAN, SAILDART Archives, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Stanford University, October 8, 1977. online at
    • Online manual, RS:RUTLSP.MAN, Computer Science Department, Rutgers University, May 1978.


Rutgers ELISP

  • [Charles Hedrick]. ELISP - EXTENDED ADDRESSING LISP. Undated, 2 pages. PDF

    Handout at 1980 LISP Conference?

    "ELISP is an implementation of LISP for the DECSYSTEM-20. It uses the full 24-bit extended address space. It can be reconfigured easily to use any address space of up to 30 bits. It requires TOPS-20 version 4 or later and a KL-10 model B processor. ...

    ELISP involves a complete recoding of the assembly language part of Lisp. The user facilities and many of the functions are Lisp code that was simply moved from Rutgers/UCI Lisp without change. The compiler is a somewhat modified version of the Standard Lisp compiler from the University of Utah."

  • See also: Welch 1994 and Rutgers Common Lisp

Source code

  • Lars Brinkhoff, archivist. ELISP source code. Online at

    "Tape images from Linköping University's Department of Computer and Information Science, courtesy of Andreas Johansson. Files were extracted using read20 -x -g -b."


  • John R. Ellis. Bulldog: A Compiler for VLIW Architectures.
    • Source code. Rutgers ELISP. Scanned listings, courtesy of John R. Ellis.
      • Diophantine PDF
      • Documentation Test PDF
      • Drawing PDF
      • Experiments PDF
      • Flow Analysis PDF
      • Ideal Code Generator PDF
      • Interpreter PDF
      • List Scheduler PDF
      • Trace PDF
      • Utilities PDF
    • John R. Ellis. Bulldog: A Compiler for VLIW Architectures. Ph.D. thesis. YALEU/DCS/RR-364, Yale University, February 1985. PDF at
      Republished by MIT Press in 1986 as the winner of ACM's Doctoral Dissertation Award for 1985.




  • Nathaniel Miskin. TLISP : TOPS-20 Native-mode Yale/Rutgers/UCI LISP. Yale University, January 8, 1981. PDF

    "TLISP is a version of Yale/Rutgers/UCI LISP which runs in native mode on TOPS-20; i.e. it has no dependencies on the TOPS-10 monitor or the TOPS-20 Compatibility Package (PA1050). This document will describe the differences between TLISP and the LISP described in the New UCI LISP Manual.

    TLISP is most closely related to "new" UCI LISP (hereafter, UCILISP) although a few features of UCILISP are not in TLISP and TLISP has some features not in UCILISP. The 'history' of TLISP is:

    Stanford -> UCI -> Rutgers -> Yale LISP -> 'new UCI LISP'
    V Yale TLISP



  • Crispin S. Perdue. C-MU LISP. Department of Computer Science, Carnegie-Mellon University, September 2, 1979. 202 pages. Computer History Museum: gift of James R. Meehan, Lot X6057.2011. PDF

    "C-MU LISP was UCI Lisp with a few modifications and a bunch of additions. Mark Stickel did a lot of that based on Interlisp features and I did some also." [Crispin Perdue, personal communication to Paul McJones, May 2008]


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