Jeremy Hylton : weblog : 2003-11-26

Strongtalk History

Wednesday, November 26, 2003, 5:14 p.m.

Saw a link to a brief history of the Strongtalk system, a Smalltalk implement with static types and a runtime system based on type-feedback. The company was eventually bought by Sun to work on Hotspot.

Several people had tried to build type systems for Smalltalk (Borning, Palsberg & Schwartzbach, Graver & Johnson), but it was clearly an enormously difficult task, because of the vastly more flexible nature of the way Smalltalk is used compared to any existing statically-typed language, not to mention the unprecedented problem of having to retrofit a type system onto existing untyped code.

I would think the same kind of project could be done for Python. It's a similarly dynamic system and a JIT based on type-feedback would probably be as effective. So what kind of effort would be involved? It looks like they had six talented people with previous experience working for almost two years to get the first version done.