SICP video lectures to HP employees from 1986


Better than a good night in watching the latest movie on DVD, I'm really enjoying the 1986 Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs lectures given to HP employees by Abelson and Sussman:

From the video notes:

"These twenty video lectures by Hal Abelson and Gerald Jay Sussman are a complete presentation of the course, given in July 1986 for Hewlett-Packard employees, and professionally produced by Hewlett-Packard Television. The videos have been used extensively in corporate training at Hewlett-Packard and other companies, as well as at several universities and in MIT short courses for industry"

Step by step they enthusiastically take you into the deeper realms of computer science. The use of LISP seems quite natural in the context of the aims of the course.

The authors generously released the video materials and the accompanying text book under a Creative Commons Licence. Available from here:


Edited: 26 Sept 2012, 3:23 a.m.


Thank you for that, it evokes good memories for me!

I haven't done anything with LISP in many years but did my doctorate and later work in it back in the 80's. The later work was done in HP's really cool LISP environment on the 9000/300 series machines. It was Common LISP running in the X11 windowing system under HP-UX with a development shell that HP wrote to complete with LISP Machines, Inc and Symbolics.

It was way ahead of its time and a lot of fun to use like many of HP's products from that era.

Edited: 26 Sept 2012, 10:02 a.m.


Hello Nick,

thank you for sharing the link. I enjoy the first lesson very in front of the background USER RPL of the HP 50g.

Even if someone is familiar with LISP, the introduction is a rarely pleasure in the basics what programming in it's essence is or not.



2A: Higher-order Procedures


A fixed point is a place which

has the property that if you

put it into the function, you

get the same value out.


Now, I suppose if I were giving

some nice, boring

lecture, and you happened to

have in front of you an HP-35

desk calculator like I

used to have when I

went to boring lectures.

And if you think it was really

boring, you put it into

radians mode, and you hit

cosine, and you hit cosine,

and you hit cosine.

And eventually, you end

up with 0.734 or

something like that.

0.743, I don't remember what

exactly, and it gets closer

and closer to that.

Now that would be more something like 0.739.
And to my knowledge the HP-35 didn't support radians mode.
But I thought you might enjoy the finding nevertheless.




Gerry Sussman dons his wizard costume and returns to the cosine example, and fixed points of functions more generally, in Lecture 7A: Metacircular Evaluator, Part 1.


Edited: 1 Oct 2012, 2:54 p.m.


Nice move. Now you have me looking forward to watch the other videos as well.

By the way thank you for providing the link


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