【Fujitsu】 FACOMα (Alpha)

This was a computer from Fujitsu specifically designed for high-speed processing of the Lisp language. In the early 1980s, there was active research and development on artificial intelligence throughout the world. The α (Alpha) computer -- designed specifically for high-speed processing of the Lisp language -- was developed in 1982 as a symbol of artificial research by Fujitsu's Research Laboratories. It was later commercialized in 1985 as the FACOM (Alpha) (announced in July 1974).

At the time, most dedicated processors for the Lisp language were the stand-alone type, but the FACOM α(Alpha) focused on higher performance, and had an attachment (back-end) configuration so it could be connected to a minicomputer or general-purpose computer. This machine had the following features:

  1. It was comprised of a CPU for performing Lisp processing, 4-8MB of main memory, and an SVP (Service Processor) for performing microprogram loading and diagnostics.
  2. It was connected with a host computer via a general-purpose channel (BMC: Block Multiplexor Channel), and the FACOM α (Alpha) was equipped with an adapter for that purpose.
  3. The FACOM α(Alpha) was equipped with the following capabilities:
     An interpreter, compiler, standard functions, garbage collector and other Lisp language processing
     Function processing for converting character strings sent from the host to Lisp objects and vice versa
     The ability for a maximum of 8 users to operate the machine at the same time Higher
  4. performance by implementing a hardware stack (performance was about 6 times better than general-purpose computers)

The FACOM α(Alpha) was used not only for artificial intelligence research, but also for practical systems -- such as a blast furnace diagnostic expert system for steelworks. However, only about 30 units of the FACOM α(Alpha) were shipped, and it was not successful as a business. The improvement of performance in general-purpose processors was remarkable, and very little priority was placed on the development of dedicated computers (which take time to develop). No successor α(Alpha) was developed.

FACOM α (Alpha)Commercial Version of the "α (Alpha)" Lisp Machine