Big Integers on the Alto

“Alto System Project: Dan Ingalls demonstrates Smalltalk”

One of the things that is nice about this is that, although Smalltalk used small integers, we made sure that you can make large numbers with them. One of the first things that kids want to do when working with numbers is make bigger ones, and bigger ones, and bigger ones. [laughter]. So you can make them as big as you want in Smalltalk.

I’m not sure what the trade-offs of big-int-by-default on that architecture were, but I’m surprised that and wonder if they really were motivated by kids (or other newcomers).