Big News for Smalltalk

Ditch Linux for Smalltalk-80 on your Raspberry Pi!

Nick Bild
4 months agoRetroTech

Most modern software engineers have never had occasion to use the Smalltalk programming language. However, currently popular languages such as Java, Python, and Objective-C have been influenced by concepts that were introduced or popularized by Smalltalk.

Smalltalk was developed by the Learning Research Group at Xerox PARC during the 1970s, and first generally released as Smalltalk-80 in 1980. Innovative for its time as an object-oriented, dynamically typed language, and known for its simplicity, Smalltalk gained a loyal community of users that, in some circles, continues to this day. One member of that community, Michael Engel, Associate Professor at Norwegian University of Science and Technology, has built a Smalltalk Virtual Machine (VM) that will run on bare metal on a Raspberry Pi.

A Smalltalk VM contains an entire graphical development environment and compiler with no underlying operating system. Engel based his VM on a C++ reimplementation of the original Smalltalk-80, a bare metal programming environment for the Raspberry Pi, and a Smalltalk-80 VM image. With the proper glue, these pieces yield a Raspberry Pi Zero running Smalltalk-80 — and that does not mean a Smalltalk compiler installed on top of your operating system. Smalltalk is the operating system.

Engel describes his work as being very much a work in progress. He envisions this work as being a basis for projects for his students at the university. How fitting for a language that was originally designed in part for educational use.

Nick Bild
R&D, creativity, and building the next big thing you never knew you wanted are my specialties.
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