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Daniel Weinreb Died ((1959 ~ 2012) Lisp Programer)

From: Xah Lee
Subject: Daniel Weinreb Died ((1959 ~ 2012) Lisp Programer)
Date: Sat, 8 Sep 2012 03:25:21 -0700 (PDT)
User-agent: G2/1.0

Daniel Weinreb Died ((1959 ~ 2012) Lisp Programer)

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Daniel Weinreb died today. Cancer. Aged 53. (≈1959 ~ 2012-09-07).
Obituary at

Daniel frequently use comp.lang.lisp. Since about 2007, i became
acquainted with him, because he responded to some of my lisp
criticisms. Subsequently i learned of his status in the lisp
community. Later have exchanged a couple email with him. I didn't know
he had cancer. Don't think he ever blogged about his illness.

Daniel Weinreb used Emacs before Richard Stallman, and is a co-founder
of Symbolics, a lisp company during 1980s.

He told me about how emacs keybinding started.


    From: Daniel Weinreb 〔〕
    User-Agent: Thunderbird (Windows/20080421)
    Newsgroups: comp.emacs,comp.lang.lisp
    Subject: Re: effective emacs wrote:
    │ Effective Emacs
    │ (Long term emacs productivity tips.)
    │ Xah Lee, 2008-05-29
    │ I have used emacs daily since 1998. Typically, i spent several
    │ inside emacs, everyday, for the past 10 years.

    Same for me, except the year is 1977.  Nobody has been using Emacs
    longer than I have (I was one of the original beta-testers.  I
    here to the original Emacs, written in ITS TECO for the DEC 10.)

    │ Emacs's default cursor moving shortcuts are “Ctrl+f”, “Ctrl+b”,
    │ +n”, “Ctrl+p”. The keys f, b, n, p are scattered around the
    │ and are not under the home row.

    That's true.  At the time Guy Steele put together the Emacs
    key mappings, many people in the target user community (about 20
    people at MIT!) were already using these key bindings.  It would
    have been hard to get the new Emacs bindings accepted by the
    community if they differed for such basic commands.  As you point
    out, anyone using Emacs can very easily change this based on
    their own ergonomic preferences.

    │ GOOD
    │ Microsoft Natural Multimedia keyboard

    Let me put in a quick plug for my own favorite keyboard, which
    I am using right now: the Unicomp Customizer:

    I like the feel of the keys very much.  I agree with you
    that it's important, and worth some effort, for everyone
    to find a keyboard that they feel most comfortable with.

    │ Problem and Why Emacs's Keyboard Shortcuts Are Painful.

    I generally make few customizations to the key bindings, so
    that when I work with another programmer, I can turn the
    keyboard over to them and not cause confusion.

    │ Steve advices users to “Lose the UI”.

    I rarely use the menu bar.  On the other hand, I was raised on an
    Emacs that didn't have a menu bar, so I could be atypical.  Using
    the mouse to set point or set the region is great, though, and I
    use that a lot.

    Here's another piece of historical trivia.  The Emacs keyboard
    macro feature was inspired by a similar feature in the Stanford
    DRAW system, an electrical CAD system widely-used by the AI lab
    hardware hackers at the time.  It was very powerful.  But if you
    made a mistake, it could really destroy your design, and so it
    was a good idea to save to disk before running it.  We had a
    for what happened if you forgot to save: "A moment of convenience,
    a lifetime of regret."  This predates the widespread use of "Undo"
    functionality, surely one of the best ideas for user interfaces
    ever invented.

    -- Dan

Daniel is a co-founder of the lisp company Symbolics. Sometimes, you
can see he speaks out on lisp history. Here's one: 〔Rebuttal to
Stallman's Story About The Formation of Symbolics and LMI 2007-11-11
By Daniel Weinreb. @ (local copy

Daniel also wrote a version of emacs. EINE (EINE Is Not Emacs). Here's
quote from Wikipedia:

    EINE (a recursive acronym standing for “EINE Is Not Emacs”) was
the Emacs text editor for Lisp machines. It was developed by Daniel
Weinreb and Mike McMahon in the late 1970s, with a command set the
same as the original Emacs written in TECO by Richard Stallman. It
would later be developed into ZWEI ( “ZWEI Was Eine Initially”), which
itself would eventually become Symbolics' Zmacs (integrated into
Symbolics' development for their Lisp machines, Genera). It was the
second Emacs written, and the first to be written in Lisp.

(for some emacs history, see: GNU Emacs and XEmacs Schism, by Ben

On occasion i criticized lisp's cons, Daniel gently nudged me to give
detail. See: Programing Language: A Ruby Illustration of Lisp

Daniel Weinreb himself have criticized Common Lisp. See: Common Lisp

One of the popular article Dan has written is a comparison of Common
Lisp implementations. 〔Common Lisp Implementations: A Survey
2007-12-20 By Daniel Weinreb. @ Source〕

When he announced that on comp.lang.lisp, i recommended the page be
broken to sub-pages, and other formatting issues. See: Monolithic Web
Pages. He didn't take it to heart. (and i regret my tone in the

Daniel Weinreb is also mentioned in the acknowledgement section in The
UNIX-HATERS Handbook. (see the PDF file at The Unix Pestilence.)

Dan's blog is at. Last entry is just 2
days ago, where he talks about learning French.

I feel sad that Dan is gone.


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