Today’s post looks at the history of the Logo language with updated information and links.
Preface: I have written about the Logo educational programming language for Adafruit since 2018. It’s always a fun romp into early educational programming and computing, along with MIT history and early home computers. Today’s article updates previous work with some new info out today on news.ycombinator.com – Anne.
What is Logo
A general-purpose language, Logo is widely known for its use of turtle graphics, in which commands for movement and drawing produced line or vector graphics, either on screen or with a small robot termed a turtle. (via Wikipedia)
More about Logo can be found on an Adafruit Blog post here.
Detailed information on the history of Logo may be found in the paper History of Logo hosted by UC Berkeley (open access). There is also a news.ycombinator.com thread discussing the history of Logo along with comments from Don Hopkins and Lars Brinkhoff.
In a nutshell, development originated in 1967 as part of a National Science Foundation sponsored research project at Bolt, Beranek and Newman starting on a DEC PDP-1 in LISP. Memo. A history via logothings.
Work later was done at the MIT AI Lab and the Logo Group was formed. The MIT versions of Logo were substantially different from the BBN ones, both in the notations used and in the things the language could do. Most notably, turtle graphics was added at MIT. The source code to LLogo in MACLISP running on the MIT-AI ITS system was preserved:
It’s a fascinating historical document, 12,480 lines of beautiful practical lisp code, defining where the rubber meets the road, with drivers for hardware like pots, plotters, robotic turtles, TV turtles, graphical displays, XGP laser printers, music devices, and lots of other interesting code and comments. https://donhopkins.com/home/archive/lisp/llogo.lisp
Lars has memoranda and manuals from that era.
- Memorandum I June 1974, Memorandum revised March 1975
- Manual December 1974 – Logo on a PDP-11/45
- Glossary (for above) and updated Glossary March 1975
Some more history of this era may be found in the comp.lang.logo newsgroup.
Logo on 8-bit Computers
Logo was a natural consideration for porting to the exploding home/business/education computer market starting in the 1980s.
When such computers arrived on the scene, Logo was usually the second language, after BASIC, to be ported:
- Apple Logo for II+ and Apple Logo Writer for the //e, developed by LCSI (Logo Computer Systems, Inc), was the most broadly used and prevalent early implementation of Logo which peaked in the early to mid-1980s.
- Atari Logo was released on cartridge by Atari for the Atari 8-bit family.
- Color Logo was released for the TRS-80 Color Computer in 1983 on cartridge and disk by Tandy
- Commodore Logo was released on diskette in 1983 based on MIT Logo.
- The Macintosh 128K used ExperLogo, released in 1985 by Expertelligence
- IBM marketed their own version of Logo, also developed by LCSI, for their then-new IBM PC.
Terrapin Logo for the Apple ][ and C64 came with a 6502 assembler written in Logo by Leigh Klotz, that they used to write Logo primitives (for controlling the turtle, etc). It would be ambitious to make a self hosting 6502 Logo meta assembler, by porting the entire 6502 assembly language Logo source code to the 6502 Logo Assembler!
The news.ycombinator.com post from today (9/21/2021) helps provide additional details about the history of Logo and we all thank those who preserve that history.
You can run Logo today!