Next: , Previous: , Up: A History of Emacs   [Contents][Index]

1.5 XEmacs

Around the time that Lucid was developing Energize, Sun Microsystems was developing their own development environment (called “SPARCWorks”) and also decided to use Emacs. They joined forces with the Epoch team at the University of Illinois and later with Lucid. The maintainer of the last-released version of Epoch was Marc Andreessen, but he dropped out and the Epoch project, headed by Simon Kaplan, lured Chuck Thompson away from a system administration job to become the primary Lucid Emacs author for Epoch and Sun. Chuck’s area of specialty became the redisplay engine (he replaced the old Lucid Emacs redisplay engine with a ported version from Epoch and then later rewrote it from scratch). Sun also hired Ben Wing (the author of Win-Emacs, a port of Lucid Emacs to Microsoft Windows 3.1) in 1993, for what was initially a one-month contract to fix some event problems but later became a many-year involvement, punctuated by a six-month contract with Amdahl Corporation.

In 1994, Sun and Lucid agreed to rename Lucid Emacs to XEmacs (a name not favorable to either company); the first release called XEmacs was version 19.11. In June 1994, Lucid folded and Jamie quit to work for the newly formed Mosaic Communications Corp., later Netscape Communications Corp. (co-founded by the same Marc Andreessen, who had quit his Epoch job to work on a graphical browser for the World Wide Web). Chuck then become the primary maintainer of XEmacs, and put out versions 19.11 through 19.14 in conjunction with Ben. For 19.12 and 19.13, Chuck added the new redisplay and many other display improvements and Ben added MULE support (support for Asian and other languages) and redesigned most of the internal Lisp subsystems to better support the MULE work and the various other features being added to XEmacs. After 19.14 Chuck retired as primary maintainer and Steve Baur stepped in.

Soon after 19.13 was released, work began in earnest on the MULE internationalization code and the source tree was divided into two development paths. The MULE version was initially called 19.20, but was soon renamed to 20.0. In 1996 Martin Buchholz of Sun Microsystems took over the care and feeding of it and worked on it in parallel with the 19.14 development that was occurring at the same time. After much work by Martin, it was decided to release 20.0 ahead of 19.15 in February 1997. The source tree remained divided until 20.2 when the version 19 source was finally retired at version 19.16.

In 1997, Sun finally dropped all pretense of support for XEmacs and Martin Buchholz left the company in November. Since then, and mostly for the previous year, because Steve Baur was never paid to work on XEmacs, XEmacs has existed solely on the contributions of volunteers from the Free Software Community. Starting from 1997, Hrvoje Niksic and Kyle Jones have figured prominently in XEmacs development.

Many attempts have been made to merge XEmacs and GNU Emacs, but they have consistently failed.

A more detailed history is contained in the SXEmacs About page.

A time line for XEmacs is

At this point another change in the version numbering scheme occurred. From now on, even numbered minor versions are the stable (and gamma) releases, and odd numbered minor versions are beta releases. It was the same numbering scheme that the Linux kernel used (prior to 2.6.x kernels).

XEmacs release time line (stable/gamma 21.4.0 to present day)

XEmacs release time line (beta 21.5.0 to present day)

Next: , Previous: , Up: A History of Emacs   [Contents][Index]