Learning Lisp: Choosing an Implementation

Six months ago I began to teach myself Lisp. The catalyst for me was the now famous quote by Eric Raymond:

LISP is worth learning for a different reason — the profound enlightenment experience you will have when you finally get it. That experience will make you a better programmer for the rest of your days, even if you never actually use LISP itself a lot.

After reading this I couldn't help myself but to try Lisp.

I understand that the common knowledge in the Lisp community is that the current obligatory initial text on Common Lisp is Peter Seibel's Practical Common Lisp. However, during and after reading this tome, the common question I hear beginners like myself ask is this: _What implementation of Common Lisp should I use?

To the rescue comes Daniel Weinreb's survey of all actively developed Common Lisp implementations on the loose today. This is not an extensive survey, but it gives you a pretty good idea of the capabilities of each implementation. The last third of the survey's content gives the reader a great list of Common Lisp resources. This is a must read for anyone learning Common Lisp.


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