Sunday, April 15, 2012

Smalltalk history

As part of a new Introduction to Smalltalk course I'm developing to be delivered as an online course, I've put together a brief history of Smalltalk. I think it's important to know where the different dialects of Smalltalk came from.  I'll likely release this video for free.

Part of the video is the following diagram of the companies involved in the major Smalltalk dialects we see today.


  1. You're missing Tektronix Smalltalk where Ward and Kent cut their teeth on Smalltalk and where most of the original Instantiations team cam from ... Also Amber Smalltalk is missing

  2. Thanks, Dale. You're obviously correct. I considered that Tektronix was really Smalltalk-80 running on a Tektronix virtual machine so it wasn't really its own dialect. The impact of Tektronix Smalltalk, however was critical to the Smalltalk industry so it would be worth adding it.

    But Tektronix was only one of the companies that received Smalltalk-80 in 1983 to port to their own hardware. Apple, DEC, Hewlett Packard as well as UC Berkley. I was planning to mention those in the video and perhaps they should be in the diagram as well. The first version of Smalltalk I ever used derived from the UC Berkley version and at one point I ported that to the Amiga.

    I could add Amber Smalltalk as well, but then I could also add Smalltalk/X, Smalltalk MT, Ambrai Smalltalk, Pocket Smalltalk, #Smalltalk, FScript, Little Smalltalk, Panda Smalltalk, Strongtalk, Bistro, Etiole, Vista Smalltalk, SmallScript and Redline.

    I guess my question is: Where do I draw the line in terms of significance? (This is not a rhetorical question.) I fear that if I put everything in, the diagram will become too cluttered and hard to explain. It's also hard finding the timelines of some of these Smalltalks (Amber is one of the easiest) so I don't know what to put in as end dates.

    Would you like an exhaustive and complete diagram of all Smalltalks? I wouldn't mind putting it together if there was interest.

  3. I do think it would be good to have a comprehensive diagram. Perhaps two diagrams would be acceptable. Would you consider putting it on the Wikipedia smalltalk article?

    I would consider Strongtalk as a fairly significant smalltalk as it became a core component for the java vm.

    1. I wouldn't mind using it on Wikipedia, but I'd need better citations :-)

  4. It would be great to have Dolphin Smalltalk of Object Arts on that chart.

  5. I've updated my chart based on the feedback here. Check out

  6. CalmoSoft Project for Vista Smalltalk:

  7. Hi David, out of curiosity have you kept your Smalltalk timeline up to date since 2012 ?