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Squeak is a modernized Smalltalk, designed by Alan Kay, Dan Ingalls, Ted Kaehler, and others of Smalltalk or Apple-fame, and is a completely free system, with full source code, and truly amazing capacities (if you like to program, if you like to know why a computer does as it does, if you like Smalltalk etc.).
It definitely is the best and most beautiful programming environment I ever saw, and a great gift to humanity, courtesy Kay, Ingalls, and Kaehler.
The best brief introduction to both Smalltalk and Squeak is Dan Ingall's 1981 article in Byte: Design Principles of Smalltalk, which you can find at:
One reason it is important, original and different from the motivations of other computer languages, Ingalls puts as follows, and I add my own stresses:
Just to get warmed up, I'll start with a principle that is more social than technical and that is largely responsible for the particular bias of the Smalltalk project:
Personal Mastery: If a system is to serve the creative spirit, it must be entirely comprehensible to a single individual.
The point here is that the human potential manifests itself in individuals. To realize this potential, we must provide a medium that can be mastered by a single individual. Any barrier that exists between the user and some part of the system will eventually be a barrier to creative expression.
Now you - one human individual, with some spark of creativity - read on in Design Principles of Smalltalk. It's a fine article.
So this happens to be my own diagnosis of Squeak as a great gift to humanity, for that is what it is:
There is no other thing like it - a complete Smalltalk + Morphic + open source, indeed embodying the principle of mastery or comprehensibility: If a system is to serve the creative spirit, it must be entirely comprehensible to a single individual.
For I have been felt long before knowing about Squeak that really good programming environments must be entirely given to any single individual, in the very same way and for the very same reason as language, mathematics, music and logic are given to human beings: As essentially free and open tools to communicate and to think with to the best of one's individual ability, as and how you like it, and as part and parcel of your being human and your right to be human and express yourself creatively and reasonably in a human way.
And this includes the notion that a computer program should be open source, so that it's users can understand what it does and does not do, and can find out whether it contains any code one does not want to run on one's system.
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