Celebrating 50 Years of Smalltalk by@richard-kenneth-eng

Celebrating 50 Years of Smalltalk

Alan Kay, Dan Ingalls, and Adele Goldberg at Xerox PARC created a revolutionary new programming language called Smalltalk in 1972. It was designed as a purely Object-Oriented language based on the message passing paradigm. Smalltalk is used for writing massive applications like ERP and industrial control systems like silicon wafer fabrication at Lam Research and tiny IoT systems like for Raspberry Pi. It is not uncommon to write a Smalltalk application in a fraction of the time it would take in Python or JavaScript or Java.
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Richard Kenneth Eng HackerNoon profile picture

Richard Kenneth Eng

Blogger. Smalltalk evangelist. Retired software engineer. Avengers fan.


In 1972, Alan Kay, Dan Ingalls, and Adele Goldberg at Xerox PARC created a revolutionary new programming language called Smalltalk. It was designed as a very simple, instructional language for teaching programming to young people. It was designed as a purely Object-Oriented language based on the message passing paradigm.


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How simple is Smalltalk? You can learn its complete syntax, which fits on a post card, in less than 15 minutes! Try that with Python.


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Since then, Smalltalk has become an important industrial language used by enterprises all around the globe. There are three major Smalltalk vendors with thousands of enterprise customers between them (Cincom, Instantiations, GemTalk Systems). Smalltalk is used for writing massive applications like ERP and industrial control systems like silicon wafer fabrication at Lam Research and tiny IoT systems like for Raspberry Pi. Smalltalk is used for web applications and data science and machine learning. Smalltalk is used practically everywhere!


The huge draw of Smalltalk lies in two areas: 1) low cognitive load on the developer; and 2) high programming productivity. It is not uncommon to write a Smalltalk application in a fraction of the time it would take in Python or JavaScript or Java. The key is Smalltalk’s live programming capability.


Smalltalk came to prominence in the 1980s when it was featured in the August 1981 edition of BYTE magazine.


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Smalltalk achieved its zenith of popularity in the 1990s as Smalltalk went head to head with C++ and was chosen as the centre piece of IBM’s VisualAge enterprise initiative.


From ComputerWorld 1995

From ComputerWorld 1995


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In fact, according to a 1995 IDC report, Object-Oriented language market shares were:


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The rise of Java from Sun Microsystems in the late 1990s eclipsed Smalltalk, which then fell out of favour. But Smalltalk remains recognized as the finest Object-Oriented programming language to this day.


Smalltalk was extremely influential in the design of other Object-Oriented languages, most notably Objective-C, Ruby, Python, and CLOS (Common Lisp Object System).


JWARS is a simulation of theatre level warfare that was developed at the US Department of Defense. Development started in 1995 and it consisted of over 1.1 million lines of Smalltalk before the program was canceled in October 2010 for ‘budgetary’ reasons. Nevertheless, this was one of the greatest demonstrations of Smalltalk’s technological power.


Camp Smalltalk is a regularly held conference for people from all around the world to come together to talk about Smalltalk. This year, 2022, a “supreme” edition of Camp Smalltalk was held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the programming language.


Camp Smalltalk Supreme featured illustrious keynote speakers like Adele Goldberg, Dan Ingalls, and Kent Beck. Free T-shirts and flashlight keychains were given away. There were birthday cake and refreshments, and even a celebration banquet for attendees! It was quite the birthday party.


T-shirt design against black shirt

T-shirt design against black shirt


Flashlight keychain

Flashlight keychain


To watch the video recordings of all the presentations, visit Smalltalk Renaissance — 50 Years of Smalltalk – YouTube.


Ana DuCristea, winner of the James Robertson Memorial Programming Competition for 2022, was supposed to attend Camp Smalltalk to receive her award. JRMPC 2022 also celebrated the 50th anniversary of Smalltalk. Unfortunately, she had to cancel at the last minute due to a scheduling conflict. Nevertheless, here is Ana with her award...


First Prize was $2,500.

First Prize was $2,500.


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Let’s close with some memorable pictures from the event…


Organizers Richard Eng and Prof. Dave Mason

Organizers Richard Eng and Prof. Dave Mason


Keynote speaker Adele Goldberg

Keynote speaker Adele Goldberg


Keynote speaker Dan Ingalls

Keynote speaker Dan Ingalls


Dan Ingalls

Dan Ingalls


Keynote speaker Kent Beck

Keynote speaker Kent Beck


Keynote speaker David Buck

Keynote speaker David Buck


Prof. Dave Mason

Prof. Dave Mason


Adele signing an autograph

Adele signing an autograph


Seth Berman, CEO Instantiations

Seth Berman, CEO Instantiations


Mariano Martinez Peck, Instantiations

Mariano Martinez Peck, Instantiations


Norm Green, CTO GemTalk Systems

Norm Green, CTO GemTalk Systems


James Foster, GemTalk Systems

James Foster, GemTalk Systems


Martin McClure, GemTalk Systems

Martin McClure, GemTalk Systems


Kurt Kilpela, GemTalk Systems

Kurt Kilpela, GemTalk Systems


Boris Shingarov, LabWare

Boris Shingarov, LabWare


Jan Vraný, LabWare

Jan Vraný, LabWare


Offray Luna-Cardenas

Offray Luna-Cardenas


Javier Pimás

Javier Pimás


Celebration banquet

Celebration banquet


Celebration banquet

Celebration banquet


Keynote speakers and organizers photo:


Left to right: Dave Mason, Adele Goldberg, David Buck, Kent Beck, Dan Ingalls, Richard Eng

Left to right: Dave Mason, Adele Goldberg, David Buck, Kent Beck, Dan Ingalls, Richard Eng


Sponsors and organizers photo:


Left to right: Vance Kershner, Mark Gonzalez, Richard Eng, Dave Mason, Seth Berman, Norm Green, Ki-Nam Choi

Left to right: Vance Kershner, Mark Gonzalez, Richard Eng, Dave Mason, Seth Berman, Norm Green, Ki-Nam Choi


Group photo (full resolution image here):


Some attendees unavailable

Some attendees unavailable



Poster

Poster


All photos from Camp Smalltalk were taken by Adriaan van Os, who has generously shared them with us. Visit his website at https://a3aan.st/.










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