Kyoto Common Lisp

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An implementation of LISP originally done by Taiichi Yuasa and Masami Hagiya at the Research Institute of Mathematical Sciences at Kyoto University as a part of the MITI led Fifth Generation Project and was released as copyrighted open source software in 1985. Kyoto Common Lisp (KCL) became very influential in the LISP world, not only because it was the first Common Lisp system and that a number of commercial implementers licenced the code or portions of it. Since the original Common Lisp proposal by the Department of Defence had a large number of errors in it which were fixed and notated by the Kyoto group making the Kyoto Common Lisp Report a de facto standard. Furthermore it was written in C and thus easily portable on machines with a UNIX derived operating system and it used the C compiler as an intermediate compiler making code written with the system fairly fast compared to some of the existing LISP systems.

On the minus side the combination of KCL and the C compiler/tools could be tricky to use, especially wriggling out the last bit of performance out of the combination could get hairy, and as C compilers were getting diverse even if they were largely from only a limited number of codebases, optimizations across a number of platforms were difficult.

Austin Kyoto Common Lisp

Professor William Frederick Schelter (1947 ~ 2001) took the Kyoto sources and created Austin Kyoto Common Lisp in 1988 under contract with IBM to port it to the RT PC and S/370 AIX, but that was later the first release of the codebase that ran under OS/2 and also released for sundry UNIX based systems and eventually even DOS. Schelter later used AKCL as the basis for mathematical program Axiom. Because of licensing issues AKCL was not released as a single package but as a add on package to the June 1987 KCL source release.


Kyoto Common Lisp
  • June 1987 Source release (last known version)
While there appear to have been no other full releases to the system, Taiichi Yuasa released bug patch fixes to the June 1987 release at the least until 1993. However all known distributions of KCL omit those patches but a few actually turn up in AKCL.
Austin Kyoto Common Lisp
  • AKCL v619b (1993)
  • AKCL v625 (1994)
First release that does not require KCL.


  • Kyoto Common Lisp is copyrighted open source software and while it permitted to distribute the source for personal and academic use, other forms of usage require an explicit permission from the authors and changes to the source code are forbidden.


  • Kyoto University (Taiichi Yuasa, Masami Hagiya)
  • University of Texas (William Frederick Schelter, Gregory R. Siebers et al.)