The Scam Programming Language

written by: John C. Lusth

Revision Date: October 8, 2017

Printable Version


Scam is a nifty little language that looks a lot like Scheme, but is so much more. Scam is:

Scam's homepage is

Scam versus Scheme

For Scheme programmers, here is a list of important differences: quick hits.


Latest Scam versions:

32-bit Linux tarball
64-bit Linux tarball
32-bit Mac tarball
64-bit Mac tarball

Installation Notes

To install Scam, perform the following steps (using scam-2.4-amd64a.tgz as an example - make sure you use the right package for your particular system). Note: Windows 10 users must have the Linux Bash subsystem installed. Other versions of Windows are not supported. To begin:

  1. In a bash shell, make a directory named scam that hangs off your home directory. Move into that directory:
        mkdir ~/scam
        cd ~/scam
  2. Set your architecture:
        export arch=`dpkg --print-architecture`
  3. Retrieve the tarball:
        wget    #change, if necessary
        Mac users may need to use \verb!curl -O! instead of \verb!wget!.
        Extract the files in the tarball:
        tar xvzf scam-2.4a-amd64.tgz
  4. Copy the scam executable to a directory in your path:
        cp scam ~/bin                # if you have your own bin

    or you can put ~/scam in your path. If you don't know what a path is, then do this instead:

        sudo cp scam /usr/bin
  5. It's unlikely, but you may need to install the readline library. On a Debian system like Ubuntu, you would issue the following command:
        sudo apt-get install libreadline6

    Look to the interwebs for instructions on how to install readline on other systems.

If you have trouble installing Scam, send a message to

Learning more about Scam

There is an Open Source reference manual that delves into Scam in detail. It is called The Scam Reference Manual

The reference manual gives the nuts and bolts on the syntax and semantics of Scam.

About this website

This website is rendered in the Old School style. Old School is known for its somewhat spartan, but clean and crisp, no-nonsense, get-down-to-brass-tacks appearance. Old School was invented by Tim Berners-Lee during the latter part of the last century. It is made a bit more flashy using a style sheet.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation, grant numbers #00244269 and #0633290.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.