In late 1986 and early 1987 an ad hoc group of Smalltalk implementors got together to see if they could agree on a design for the next major version of Smalltalk, after Smalltalk-80. The intent was that what they agreed upon would feed into an IEEE standardization process. That process never got off the ground but the proposals from 1987 were available to the ANSI X3J20 effort that started in 1993.
The main contributors were:
- L. Peter Deutsch, ParcPlace Systems (editor)
- George Bosworth, Digitalk
- Steve Burbeck, Softsmarts
- Barry Haynes, Apple Computer
- Ralph Johnson, UIUC
- Mark Miller, Xerox PARC/ISL
- Eliot Moss, Univ. Massachusetts
- Dave Thomas, Carleton Univ.
- David Ungar, Standford Univ.
- Steve Vegdahl, Tektronix
- Allen Wirfs-Brock, Tektronix
The end product of the effort was a 54 page collection (50 megabyte pdf download) consisting of the following individual proposals:
- Proposal for 1987 Smalltalk Standard: syntax
- Protected application in Smalltalk-80 Systems
- Proposal for 1987 Smalltalk Standard: primitives
- Proposal for 1987 Smalltalk Standard: meta-level interfaces to object state
- Proposal for 1987 Smalltalk Standard: meta-level interfaces to contexts and processes
- Proposal for 1987 Smalltalk Standard: Processes
- New scope mechanism for the Smalltalk-80 language
The basic syntax proposals were fairly conservative and, to some degree, were followed by commercial Smalltalk implementations. Other proposals addressed implementation and meta-level issues such as debugging and compiler interfaces that were never standardized. The meta-level facilities were quite innovative (perhaps radical) for the time and worth studying from a “what might have been” perspective.