This material has NOT been updated from the original 1984 text which I found it completely by accident in a tarball at this address: http://venus.deis.unical.it/manuals/llisp/index.html. There are many errors and typos, and the version of lisp (P-Lisp, which ran on the Apple II) predates commonlisp, and no longer exists. So I strongly encourage you not to actually use this to learn Lisp! -- Jeff Shrager, 20060430

The original tarball: [112 Kb]

Here's a new tutorial introduction to LISP (LIST Processor), the much-talked-about language of artificial intelligence.

Whatever your computer background, this comprehensive, clear-cut primer will teach you one of the oldest languages still in use--one that's simple and fun to learn. You'll become familiar with:

You'll also find concrete, elementary examples that will help you grasp more abstract ideas, plus exercises to reinforce what you learn in each chapter. Included as a special feature is a sample dialogue with ELIZA, Joseph Weizenbaum's classic LISP program.

Stop wondering what LISP is all about and what it can do for you. Let Learning LISP teach you everything you need to know about a language that will make your computer a valuable partner in thinking.

Gnosis, a Philadelphia-based software company, currently markets a LISP interpreter. The interpreter, P-LISP, is in use by hundreds of colleges and research facilities around the world for research, artificial intelligence development, and teaching.


  1. Getting Started
  2. Lists, CAR and CDR
  3. More Lists
  4. Atoms and Values
  5. Bag of Predicates
  6. Defining Your Own Functions
  7. Help Functions
  8. How to Save the World
  9. This Thing Called Lambda
  10. The Conditional
  11. Simple Recursion
  12. The Lisp Editor ED
  13. Lists as Trees
  14. Trees and Recursion
  15. A Style of Programming
  16. Scope Considerations
  17. Maps
  18. Isplay Ogrammingpray
  19. FEXPRS: Unevaluating Functions
  20. Control Structures
  21. Eval and Apply
  22. Properties and Lambda Expressions
  23. Differentiating Polynomials
  24. Simplifying Polynomials
  25. Efficiency and Elimination of Recursion
  26. ELIZA
  27. The P-Lisp Interpreter

Appendix: The Lisp Editor