Stoyan, Herbert.

Variant names

Hide Profile

Biography / Administrative History

Herbert Stoyan was born in 1943 in what was to become East Germany. Stoyan received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Technical University Dresden in 1970 and joined an artificial intelligence (AI) group led by Egbert Lehmann at Robotron. Stoyan implemented the LISP system that was used for all AI work in East Germany, working only from the book The Programming Language LISP: Its Operation and Applications (see Bibliography below). In 1977 he became interested in LISP history; publishing a book on LISP and its history in 1979. In 1981 he moved to West Germany and changed his career from industrial research to university teaching. In 1986 he became Professor of Information Sciences at the University of Konstanz, in 1989 he became Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies in Darmstadt, and in 1990 he became Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Erlangen. He published papers on LISP history in 1984 and 1991 and a two-volume book Programmiermethoden der K√ľnstlichen Intelligenz [Programming Methods of Artificial Intelligence] in 1991. Stoyan retired in 2008.

The programming language LISP was originally designed and implemented by John McCarthy and his group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as a tool for exploring the then-new field of artificial intelligence. McCarthy received a Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1951 and became an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Dartmouth College in 1955. In the summer of 1956, he, Marvin Minsky, Nathaniel Rochester, and Claude Shannon organized the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence; it was around this time that McCarthy began thinking about the programming language requirements for artificial intelligence applications. In 1958 McCarthy became Assistant Professor of Communication Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; it was there that his thoughts on AI programming began to coalesce into the LISP language. In 1962, McCarthy became Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, where he stayed until his retirement in 2000.

LISP spread widely and informally as institutions around the world ported or re-implemented it for their local computing environment. In the 1980s a dialect called Common Lisp was introduced with the hope of facilitating the creation of commercial artificial intelligence applications that could run on any Common LISP implementation. In the late 1980s Common Lisp underwent international standardization, but the AI Winter resulting from reduced investment in artificial intelligence at the end of the Cold War substantially impacted the demand for artificial intelligence applications and interest in LISP.

For more information on the history of LISP and LISP programming see the bibliography.

From the guide to the Guide to the Herbert Stoyan collection on LISP programming, 1955-2001, 1957-1990, (Computer History Museum)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Guide to the Herbert Stoyan collection on LISP programming, 1955-2001, 1957-1990 Computer History Museum
Role Title Holding Repository
Place Name Admin Code Country
LISP (Computer program language)


Birth 1943



Ark ID: w6qk9qp8

SNAC ID: 8670406