Little Smalltalk

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Little Smalltalk is a Smalltalk subset developed by Timothy Budd and originally released in 1987 for UNIX alongside a companion book called simply A Little Smalltalk (See #Publications below). As it only implemented a subset of Smalltalk that was mainly intended as an educational system and there was never a visual environment developed for it although it does rely on an image like most Smalltalk implementations.


Little Smalltalk development started in 1984 and it may have been the first Smalltalk system that was not developed from code that originated at MIT, however since it was not released until the book was ready in 1987 it was not the first non-MIT system to be released into the wild.

The original author of the system stopped development of it in 1989 after the release of v3, but by that time the system was mostly developed on DOS and requires some minor changes to work on some newer UNIX or UNIX like systems, but a few years later Charles Childers created a "bootstrap" version that compiles more cleanly on a modern UNIX like system although that version used was 3.0 and not 3.04.

A visit to an O-O software conference in 1994 re-ignited Mr Budd's interest in the program and he released an updated version 4 alongside a free updated PostScript version of his book, this time squarely targeting UNIX systems, like his version 3 this does not work cleanly on modern UNIX like systems but does compile on old EMX implementations.


A number of derivatives of the Little Smalltalk for sundry systems have emerged through the years, many of these are released under the GPL and therefore based on the v3.x of LS rather than the later v4.x branch because the 4.x branch is not in the public domain, but the bulk of them have since disappeared off the face of the earth.

Notable derivatives include Danny Reinhold's release of version 4 for 32 bit Windows called simply v4.1. He later set up the "Little Smalltalk Project" to provide a modern version of LS but he later abandoned the project and went to work on GNU Smalltalk and Reva Forth. What remained of his effors was callled Little Smalltalk v5 and for a time Charles Childers updated it before abandoning it altogether.

In a similar time frame Michael Köhne created Parla as a fork of Little Smalltalk v3 and improved on a number of things, notably the garbage collection, his version was a bit odd as it targeted UNIX like systems but had some Microsoft Windows dependencies and has since disappeared off the face of the earth. The version included in most archives is a dud.

Kyle Hayes forked LSv4 into a version he calls LS v4.5 and in 2013 made further changes so it would compile under 64 bit systems. Someone called Ketmar created a version in 2010 that he calls "Little Smalltalk 5.10" that appears to be a fork of Danny Reinhold's v5 for Linux.

Public Domain SmallTalk (PDST) was a version of LS v3 created by Douglas E. Hammond in 1999, he partially rewrote the program and talked about doing further work, but it never transpired. However Montgomery F. Tidwell took the PDST sources and created Scripting Using a Smalltalk Interpreter Engine (Susie) out of them in 2005.

ATalk was a closed source Amiga fork of LS v1 that contained some graphic primitives and UI, it was open sourced in 2005.

Timothy Budd himself later rewrote Little Smalltalk in Java, and distributes it as the SmallWorld system.

Little Smalltalk on OS/2

The classic Little Smalltalk v3 works on OS/2 either compiled as a DOS "superset" or with the EMX system, either from the original sources or with a few changes from the later Charles Childers version, but no-one has ever bothered to release a binary. All Java versions work as well.


  • Little Smalltalk 3.0
  • Little Smalltalk 3.04 (1991-10-12) - last DOS version
  • Little Smalltalk 4.0 (1994-12-16)
  • Little Smalltalk 4.6.0 (2013-05-17) - Kyle Hayes
  • Last known Parla version: parla-3.05p7 (2007-07-02)


Now available as a free download courtesy of the original author and publisher, an updated version called "A little more Smalltalk" is included in the release of Little Smalltalk v4 in a PostScript format.



Little Smalltalk and most of its forks are open source software, but they are released under a number of different licences.

  • Little Smalltalk v1 asks users to attribute original source and keep copyright notice in the source files.
  • Little Smalltalk v2 & v3 alongside PDST are in the public domain.
  • Little Smalltalk v4 is freeware but contains a no commercial usage clause.
  • Little Smalltalk v5, SmallWorld 2015 and LLST are released under the MIT Licence.
  • Parla is licenced under the GPL v3.


  • Timothy A. Budd (Original author)
  • Danny Reinhold/Reinhold Software Services (4.1 for Windows/Early work on v5)
  • Michael Köhne (Parla)
  • Dmitry Kashitsyn (LLST)
  • Roman Proskuryakov (LLST)
  • Charles Childers (Updates to sundry branches)
  • Montgomery F. Tidwell (Susie)
  • Kyle Hayes (LS 4.5/4.6)