Guy Steele

I’ve long been a fan of Guy Steele. I was first introduced to him because he was the author of Common Lisp, The Language. But then I found that he also co-invented Scheme. This blew my Lisp-2 mind. How could he work on Lisp-2 and Lisp-1? Then I found out he wrote the Java spec and was totally baffled. Java? He was supposed to be a Lisper! But it gets worse. He was working on Fortran!

The whole experience of learning about Guy Steele shook me deeply. I realized I was being silly. I believed there was One True Language that all languages aspired and competed to be. But this is not true. And Guy Steele embodies the view that you can be fair-minded, that features can be borrowed, that all languages have warts, and that we’re still learning how best to design languages.

Guy Steele is an amazing figure. He was instrumental in writing the specs for C, Common Lisp, Scheme, and Java.

He’s also a great speaker. His talks are always concise and to the point. He seems like such a nice guy. He never says anything harsh!

This is only a selection of his works. You can find a much more complete list here. See also his Wikipedia entry.

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