Programming for the Alto's Mesa

Liam Proven lproven at
Tue Jun 21 08:46:17 CDT 2016

>From the discussions around Y Combinator's Alto restoration...

(Some may not know that the founder of Y Combinator is Paul Graham,
using some of the money Yahoo! paid him for Viaweb, which became Yahoo
Stores. PG is a Lisp champion and evangelist.)

The Alto restoration is being discussed on Hacker News, Y Combinator's
very successful forums:

This comment struck me:

Animats 2 days ago

I just looked in some boxes I haven't opened in decades. I have "Mesa
Language Manual, Version 5.0, April 1979". If the people with the Alto
need this, let me know.

If the world had used Mesa instead of C, computing would have been far
less buggy. Mesa was a hard-compiled language, but it had concurrency,
monitors, co-routines ("ports", similar to Go channels), strong type
safety, and a sane way to pass arrays around. In the 1970s.

(I should donate this stuff to the Computer Museum. I just found the
original DEC Small Computer Manual, many 1960s UNIVAC mainframe
manuals, and a reel of UNIVAC I steel magnetic tape.)

I knew that the original Smalltalk boxes weren't Smalltalk all the way
down to the metal, and that there was an OS and language, Mesa,
underneath... but I didn't know it was used for anything much *else*
or that some considered it important.

Anyone here know or remember Mesa? I'd like to hear more about it.

Liam Proven • Profile:
Email: lproven at • GMail/G+/Twitter/Flickr/Facebook: lproven
MSN: lproven at • Skype/AIM/Yahoo/LinkedIn: liamproven
Cell/Mobiles: +44 7939-087884 (UK) • +420 702 829 053 (ČR)

More information about the cctech mailing list