If Ruby is a step up from Java in productivity and power, and Smalltalk is a step up from Ruby, then we should all feel a little ashamed when we read the following from The Early History of Smalltalk by Alan Kay:
In January 1976, I took the whole group to Pajaro Dunes for a three day offsite to bring up the issues and try to reset the compass. It was called "Let's Burn Our Disk Packs." There were no shouting matches, the group liked (I would go so far to say: loved) each other too much for that. But we were troubled. I used the old aphorism that "no biological organism can live in its own waste products" to please for a really fresh start: a hw-sw system very different from the ALTO and Smalltalk, One thing we all did agree on was that the current Smalltalk's power did not match our various levels of aspiration. I thought we needed something different, as I did not see how OOP by itself was going to solve our end-user problems. Others, particularly some of the grad students, really wanted a better Smalltalk that was faster and could be used for bigger problems. I think Dan felt that a better Smalltalk could be the vehicle for the different system I wanted, but could not describe clearly.
I know that they went on to implement Smalltalk-76 as the follow-up to this, and that what we use today is a closer ancestor to that then the Smalltalk-72 that he is discussing here, but it was really just anther evolution. How is it that we haven't had a revolutionary advance in programming languages in the 30 years since then?
I don't have a solution, but I think that all too often we forget that there's even a problem to be solved.