COMPUTER SCIENTIST at Lucid, Inc.

Submitted by Jim Zaun on Thu, 07/09/2020 - 08:14
COMPUTER SCIENTIST
1985 — 1992
Lucid, Inc., (LISP & C++ IDE tools) [Menlo Park, CA]

Worked on Lucid's Common LISP IDE from 1985 to 1992 providing enhancements to a version of Emacs called Hemlock. Also, responsible for the port of the Lucid's Common LISP environment to IBM's UNIX O/S variant called AIX. Lucid's Common LISP for AIX was sold as an OEM product directly by IBM. [Symbolics LISP, Common LISP, Flavors, CLOS, Emacs, Apollo, AIX]

When the A.I. Winter hit Lucid's bottom line, a small group of scientists experienced in C, including myself, were assigned to develop a C++ IDE to diversify Lucid's product line. I was one of the original 4 computer scientists assigned to work on the Energize IDE from 1989 to 1992. The C++ language was very new and there were no GNU C++ tools at that time. Hence, the GDB debugger that Lucid adopted for Energize did not understand class inheritance, virtual functions, operator overloads and so forth. I was responsible for enhancing the GDB debugger to handle all those C++ features and for integrating it into the Energize GUI which was an enhanced version of the GNU Emacs editor (taken over by Jamie Zawinski around 1990, to later become XEmacs). Instead of running GDB in a separate Emacs buffer (pane), GDB was integrated right into the source editor with the ability to set breakpoints and see variable values annotated in the source code. This level of GUI integration was totally new at the time. Of course, this feature is now common to many development systems including Microsoft's VisualStudio and Apple's XCode IDEs. [C++, X11, GDB, generics, asynchronous I/O]

As a side note, when Lucid went bankrupt in 1994, one of Lucid's former scientists, Dr. Shel Kaplan, became employee #1 at a new startup called Amazon and I was invited to join. But, I turned down the offer because I didn't want to move to Washington. Oh well... Steve Yegge mentioned in this blog post that Amazon's amazing success was largely due to the world-class Lucid engineers Amazon hired after Lucid's demise.