Self (programming language)

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Self is an object-oriented programming language based on the concept of prototypes. It was used mainly as an experimental test system for language design in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2006, Self was still being developed as part of the Klein project, which was a Self virtual machine written fully in Self. The latest version is 4.4, released in July 2010.

Several just-in-time compilation techniques were pioneered and improved in Self research as they were required to allow a very high level object oriented language to perform at up to half the speed of optimized C. These techniques were later deployed for Java's HotSpot VM.



Self was designed mostly by David Ungar and Randall Smith in 1986 while working at Xerox PARC. Their objective was to push forward the state of the art in object-oriented programming language research, once Smalltalk-80 was released by the labs and began to be taken seriously by the industry. They moved to Stanford University and continued work on the language, building the first working Self compiler in 1987. At that point, focus changed to attempting to bring up an entire system for Self, as opposed to just the language.

The first public release was in 1990, and the next year the team moved to Sun Microsystems where they continued work on the language. Several new releases followed until falling largely dormant in 1995 with the 4.0 version. The 4.3 version was released in 2006 and ran on Mac OS X and Solaris. A new release, version 4.4, has been developed for MacOS X and Linux by a group comprising some of the original team and independent programmers and is available for Mac OS X and Linux.

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