Blaine Buxton reflects on why Smalltalk failed to cross over into the mainstream:
The first part of the quote is right. Smalltalk is too much change for most developers to accept. You have a new syntax to learn, a new environment to learn, and a completely different way of thinking. It's too much for a lot of developers. It's human nature. An image-less Smalltalk would have a nicer entry point since developers love their editors (you spend a lot of time there and well, when you learn one well, you don't want to leave it). The last part of the quote really hurt. I see myself as a lot of things. I see myself as rubyist, a smalltalker, a java programmer, and a bunch more. But, I can see where the arrogance of certain Smalltalkers can detract from the true message. It makes me sad. Smalltalk is a cool language to program in and I love talking about it. But, I know it has warts like anything else. I hope no one ever sees me as an arrogant Smalltalker. I want them to see me as passionate and thoughtful.
Much of that is true, although the stupidity of ParcPlace during the 90's should not be under-estimated. It was well nigh impossible to get Smalltalk inexpensively (much less free) for a very long time.
Part of the problem of "freeing" Smalltalk from the image is that Smalltalk is - to a very large extent - defined by the image. Sure, Vista Smalltalk is going without one, but that's new, and we'll have to see how that goes. Without the "live object" feel of an image, I'm not really sure that you have a full bore Smalltalk.
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