DOCTOR for BBN LISP, circa 1966

December 21st, 2014

Jeff Shager’s Genealogy of Eliza project has added a BBN LISP version of DOCTOR from 1966 that was recovered from a paper tape. Eliza is the classic conversational program written by Joseph Weizenbaum and and described in a 1966 CACM paper, “ELIZA–a computer program for the study of natural language communication between man and machine“. Weizenbaum wrote Eliza in his Lisp-like SLIP programming language, which ran on an IBM 7094 computer.

BBNer Bernie Cosell wrote this first Lisp version in BBN LISP and based it on the description and examples he read in the CACM paper. The recovered code is in Jeff’s github repository and an emulator that can run it is promised soon.

This is probably pretty close to the MACLISP version of DOCTOR that I played with in the early 1970s. I still have some DECtapes with old files from those days — maybe I’ll find that version of DOCTOR on one of them.