We present a design for a class of computers whose “instruction sets” are based on LISP. LISP, like traditional stored-program machine languages and unlike most high-level languages, conceptually stores programs and data in the same way and explicitly allows programs to be manipulated as data, and so is a suitable basis for a stored-program computer architecture. LISP differs from traditional machine languages in that the program/data storage is conceptually an unordered set of linked record structures of various sizes, rather than an ordered, indexable vector of integers or bit fields of fixed size. An instruction set can be designed for programs expressed as trees of record structures. A processor can interpret these program trees in a recursive fashion and provide automatic storage management for the record structures.
We discuss a small-scale prototype VLSI microprocessor which has been designed and fabricated, containing a sufficiently complete instruction interpreter to execute small programs and a rudimentary storage allocator.
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