[Novalug] [OT] The "real low level" of computers (it's not what you think) -- WAS: Packages v. ports v. source
clif at cflynt.com
Tue Mar 30 04:59:19 EDT 2010
Bryan: Thanks for a nice, concise history of processor development.
Back-inna-day, I learned computer hardware/software on a PDP-8. This
edition of the 8 was built of quad logic-Nor chips and Dual Type D
flipflops. No other chips need apply.
The assembler was so simple, you could hand assemble your code in
your head - this bit means I/O, this bit means write, next word is
At that point, it made good sense to learn assembler to understand
the hardware. We could toggle a loop on the front panel, watch der
blinkenlights, and see the data move on a 'scope.
In the '80s, I'd write in C and rework the important parts in hand
assembler. (I once got a 10% improvement on my 68k machine by
rewriting the integer-multiply subroutine and patching all the
Nowadays, I write in Tcl and rework the compute intensive parts in C.
I agree that understanding assembler is unnecessary for someone
working at the application level.
For someone who expects to work at the driver/kernel level, I think at
least some time with assembler on a 68000, PDP-11, or similar "clean"
architecture is useful, just to understand how things behave in a
In a similar vein, an auto mechanic should tear apart and rebuild an
old slant-6 engine with a carbuerator, distributor and 2 valves per
cylinder, just to understand how engines work, and then start worrying
about 8 valve, fuel injected, computer controlled engines.
... Clif Flynt ... http://www.cwflynt.com ... clif at cflynt.com ...
.. Tcl/Tk: A Developer's Guide (2nd edition) - Morgan Kauffman ..
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