Energize/Cadillac & Lucid's Demise

In the late 1980s, we started working at Lucid on a programming environment for C/C++. It was based on a programming-language-neutral, non-abstract-syntax-tree way of describing programs, annotations (a generalization of hypertext), a persistent repository for program information, and a tool-neutral user-interaction mechanism. To this day I have not seen a programming environment as advanced as Energize/Cadillac (official name/code name). There was really only one substantial paper published about the work, and that was in an obscure conference called C++ At Work (sorry if this offends someone). The paper was called Foundation for a C++ Environment [pdf].

Lucid Emacs Controversy

One of the interesting outcomes of Energize/Cadillac was the development of Lucid Emacs, which became Xemacs. We developed Lucid Emacs to provide an X-Windows-based Emacs that supported our idea of annotations and to hook into Energize/Cadillac. When Lucid went under, Lucid Emacs/Xemacs lived on.

In 1999, O'Reilly published a book called "Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution," edited by Chris DiBona, Sam Ockman, and Mark Stone. In the introduction to that book, the editors wrote about Lucid and Lucid Emacs. Their description was inacurate and (probably inadvertently) disparaged my company as being a "peril to open source," when in fact Lucid was the first company to try to work with open source on its own terms. I wrote a letter to Chris DiBona, whose company at the time, VA Linux Systems, employed Leonard Zubkoff as CTO, who worked at Lucid during the events in question.

I asked O'Reilly and the editors to correct the factual errors in the second edition, but it appears there won't be one. I'm posting that letter here to set the record straight, at least a little.

In "Patterns of Software," I wrote about an editorial in Unix Review (December 1994) by Andrew Binstock. It was called "Lucid Lost." Someone from Wikipedia was asking me about it, and I tracked it down on, along with a letter I wrote in response to it to the Editor of Unix Review. Here they are: