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My SICP story

2015/07/26

A cousin from downunder is visiting these days, so I want to talk about a gift he once gave me.

20+ years ago I had to pass a course named “Programming Languages”. One of the languages to learn was Lisp and for that the professor handed us all a copy of David Betz’s XLISP for DOS (he later focused only on XScheme and even later XLISPs by Betz are Schemes). However I did not have a PC at the time and when I told my Professor that he did two things: First he gave me a copy from the library of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (because we had MIT-Scheme at the lab). Second I gave the test in Scheme instead of Lisp.

After a while I had to return the copy of SICP at the library. But the book grew on me. I could not find it at the local bookstores and Amazon was not even a glimpse in Bezos’s mind (and even if it was, I could not have a credit card at the time thanks to how our banking system worked, but that is another story). So what my father does is he sends a letter to my cousin with the book title (bad phone lines and bad pronunciation were not helping) and I think three months later the CS book that mostly shaped my thought arrived!

Thank you George for the wonderful present!

PS: Some years later, in 1996 the second edition came out. That I bought from MIT Press directly via email along with a T-shirt of the book.

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