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Date: Tue, 03 Dec 2002 21:45:50 -0500
From: Daniel Weinreb <DLWeinreb@attbi.com>
In the official Lisp Machine Character Set, there was in fact a lambda
character, mainly because there was a lambda on the keyboard. (I refer
here to the original Lisp Machine keyboard, unofficialy known as the
Space Cadet Keyboard, in which Tom Knight saw fit to throw restraint to
the winds and put in everything anybody ever wanted, including, if I
recall correctly, the entire Greek alphabet.) I remember that at least
at one time, we had the Lisp Machine's dialect of Lisp set up so that
you could, in fact, use a symbol with a print-name one-character-long
consisting of the lambda character, in place of the LAMBDA symbol.
-- Dan Weinreb, Dept. of Lispm History...
Actually, the lambda character pre-dated the Lisp Machines, as it was part
of the "SAIL" character set used on ITS. The keyboards used with the AI
"Knight TV" system indeed has a lambda character (but not the whole Greek
alphabet). In ASCII files, lambda became the same character as backspace
(10 octal), so it wasn't as useful as some of the other SAIL characters.
(You could use it, but where you were sure you would never need a
backspace.) The Lisp Machine's 8-bit character set included a separate
backspace character (210 octal), so lambda became more generally useful.
The Space Cadet Keyboard layout was actually designed by John Kulp, who I
recall had a great deal of fun collecting ideas for keys and then went and
made a keyboad that seemingly included all of them! The Space Cadet
Keyboards included the rest of the Greek alphabet, as well as the rest of
the APL character set. My personal favorite Space Cadet keys were the
thumbs-up and thumbs-down keys!
- Alan Bawden, Dept. of ITS History...