Programming Language ISLISP


The decisions that comprised the ISLISP design were made in ISO committee meetings, however the actual text of the resulting programming language specification was not. This implies a carefully engineered set of intellectual property relationships which are best understood by reviewing the history of the process:

  1. ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 22/WG 16 made a set of technical decisions about what it wanted to do. These decisions were about the facts of how the language should work, not about the text of how that language was described.

  2. A language specification was created independently under private commercial funding. The resulting specification was expressly dedicated by its creators into the public domain.

  3. The members of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 22/WG 16 were surprised and pleased to find that a language specification had been created which satisfied their various needs, the intellectual property for which was not legally encumbered. (OK, maybe they knew it was coming, but the point is that as a legal matter, it was not prepared as part of any legal arrangement between them as an organization and the authors of the specification. As a legal matter, the specification just appeared out of nowhere out of the goodness of someone’s heart.) Since the committee as a body had not done any work to create such a document, they eagerly adopted this freely available specification in the form that was offered to them and put it up for vote as their committee’s product.

  4. Because of the incredible coincidence that the freely available document was accepted on an as-is basis from the committee in the same form as a public domain version existed, you can obtain a public domain version that is in all semantically/technically important ways, textually identical to the ISO standard--even though, as a technical and legal matter, it is not itself the ISO standard nor a derivative of it.

  5. An International Standard, ISO/IEC 13816:1997(E) was published by ISO. This document is available from ISO with its cover sheets, headers, page numbers, etc. It is the only official version of the specification. However, as a fact of history, this document is a derivative work of the public domain content in the document titled “ISLISP Working Draft 20.3” available from the “Specification” page at this site.

  6. A similar string of events happened again years later, resulting again in a public domain document and an International Standard, ISO/IEC 13816:2007(E).