2018-04-02

Reddit 1.0

As many Lisp programmers may remember, Reddit was initially written in Common Lisp. Then, in late 2005, it was rewritten in Python. Much discussion ensued. Steve Huffman (aka spez, current CEO of Reddit) wrote about why they switched to Python. The late Aaron Swartz also wrote Rewriting Reddit, focusing on the Python side of things.

Last week, that original, Common Lisp version of Reddit was published on GitHub: reddit-archive/reddit1.0. There's no documentation, but we know from the articles above that it ran on CMUCL. reddit.asd is perhaps a good entry point, where we can see it used TBNL, CL-WHO and CLSQL, a common toolset at the time.

It's missing various bits of static HTML, CSS and JS, so I don't think you can actually run this website without a fair bit of scrapping and stitching from the Wayback Machine. The code is quite readable and clean. It's not terribly interesting, since it's a fairly simple website. Still, it's a website that grew to become the 6th most visited worldwide (with 542 million monthly visitors) and now has 230 employees, says Wikipedia, so it's nice to see what it looked like at the very beginning.

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