The problem with Lisp (I think I can claim to be an expert) is that
it hides so much of the execution and implementation model that
most Lisp programmers were hopeless when it came to figuring out
performance. Because Lisp manages storage, programmers were wanton
in their use of memory; because Lisp hides the implementation of
common operations and the users didn't have to know how fast anything
was, they would write abysmally awful programs.
The only really good Lisp programmers were the ones who had
actually built the Lisp libraries or at least read the sources
and were able to take into account what was actually happening.
Often the more the language and system hide in the interest
of reducing complexity, the more problems you have when it
comes to performance.
As for available libraries, well, certainly there were extensive
Common Lisp libraries in the 80s, but I guess a lot of them have
disappeared from circulation.
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