Retro uLisp Machine?


The “Tiny Lisp Computers” look great but how about something bigger?

An instant-on, ready to use machine like the original personal computers of the late 70s and 80s, except using Lisp instead of Basic. I recall running UOLisp (University of Oregon Lisp) on the 8-bit TRS-80 model I, but my fondest memories are using ZetaLisp on the Symbolics workstations, and InterLisp on the Xerox workstations. How about a Retro (Tiny) Lisp Machine?

One thought would be to take an existing Retro machine and software, and rework the firmware to use uLisp instead of Basic. No need to create new hardware, and working software exists and could be altered. I’m thinking of the Colour Maximite 2 Generation 2, which uses a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M7 at 480Mhz.
Generation 2:
The CMM2 graphics and hardware commands would be given uLisp equivalents.
Basic overview:
Open source:

Thoughts on suitability or desirability of this approach? Another approach?
Thanks for reading!


Good suggestion. You might be interested in these uLisp-based computers that are similar to this idea; for example, see @Kaef’s Lisp Machine:

and his VGA version:

Writing a simple arcade game in Lisp


I think the esp32 ist a great Platform für uLisp because of performance and available memory (psram).
I didn’t update the projects to the current uLisp version (there was no requirement to do this and I do not have much time for this project at the moment), but this should not be a very difficult task.
Please report about your project’s state, I’ll support when needed.

Best regards,


Something like the keyboard featherwing with an Adafruit Feather M0 (especially the LoRa model which would add long range low power communication capabilities) would be a nice uLisp machine. Ideally one could make a single board unit with a Teensy 4.0, as that is the most performant micro available.


I agree, the Keyboard FeatherWing looks like a good solution. For the microcontroller an Adafruit Feather M4 would give substantially better performance and memory than the M0, unless anyone knows of a faster FeatherWing factor board.


A “quick and dirty” solution, if you insist on an actual display:

If you are having an Android smartphone/tablet, then the Google Play Store contains all sorts of “connect to serial”-Terminals. A simple USB-to-smallUSB (mini, micro, C, whatever your device has) and a cable, and you can actually use your phone/tablet with USB host as terminal. (I do.)

The issue is that for 55$, you get pretty close to “ancient”/“weak” Android with all sorts of comfort, e.g. copy-paste, a real file system, etc.

Just look at:



If a display is no requirement… you know, this sort of thing continues to work (David has seen it already), I no longer even need the custom editor:


I recently discovered uLisp when I ran across a version modified to run on an Adafruit M4 Feather and the Keyboard Featherwing. I gained some experience with Github by forking that repo and updating it to uLisp for ARM 4.0b. Then I realized that as much as I love small gadgets with keyboards (like the featherwing), my fingers are too big for it. So I gave my obsession with retro-like computers on new hardware have full reign and used a Teensy 4.1 to run uLisp with a full 1MB RAM and a Propeller to generate NTSC video with characters received from the Teensy’s Serial1.

Anyhow, if you’re interested, all the details can be found in my repo.