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Code (DV-MPS General) [Hardcover]

Charles Petzold
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (184 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 23, 1999 073940752X 978-0735605053 0
From the dots and dashes of Morse code to the 0s and 1s of computer programming, "Code" describes the ingenious ways humans have adapted language systems -- code -- to invent the machinery of the modern age. By examining the dialogues we developed for and through the communication tools of the industrial revolution, readers discover they have a context for comprehending today's world of computers, bar code scanners, and fiber optics. The work of legendary computer book author Charles Petzold has influenced an entire generation of programmers -- and with "Code", Microsoft Press is proud to bring this extraordinary writer's compelling narrative style and wit to a general audience.

Editorial Reviews Review

Charles Petzold's latest book, Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software, crosses over into general-interest nonfiction from his usual programming genre. It's a carefully written, carefully researched gem that will appeal to anyone who wants to understand computer technology at its essence. Readers learn about number systems (decimal, octal, binary, and all that) through Petzold's patient (and frequently entertaining) prose and then discover the logical systems that are used to process them. There's loads of historical information too. From Louis Braille's development of his eponymous raised-dot code to Intel Corporation's release of its early microprocessors, Petzold presents stories of people trying to communicate with (and by means of) mechanical and electrical devices. It's a fascinating progression of technologies, and Petzold presents a clear statement of how they fit together.

The real value of Code is in its explanation of technologies that have been obscured for years behind fancy user interfaces and programming environments, which, in the name of rapid application development, insulate the programmer from the machine. In a section on machine language, Petzold dissects the instruction sets of the genre-defining Intel 8080 and Motorola 6800 processors. He walks the reader through the process of performing various operations with each chip, explaining which opcodes poke which values into which registers along the way. Petzold knows that the hidden language of computers exhibits real beauty. In Code, he helps readers appreciate it. --David Wall

Topics covered: Mechanical and electrical representations of words and numbers, number systems, logic gates, performing mathematical operations with logic gates, microprocessors, machine code, memory and programming languages.

About the Author

Charles Petzold wrote the classic Programming Windows®, which is currently in its fifth edition and one of the best-known and widely used programming books of all time. He was honored in 1994 with the Windows Pioneer Award, presented by Microsoft® founder Bill Gates and Windows Magazine. He has been programming with Windows since first obtaining a beta Windows 1.0 SDK in the spring of 1985, and he wrote the very first magazine article on Windows programming in 1986. Charles is an MVP for Client Application Development and the author of several other books including Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software.

Product Details

  • Series: DV-MPS General
  • Hardcover: 393 pages
  • Publisher: Microsoft Press (October 23, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 073940752X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0735605053
  • ASIN: 073560505X
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (184 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #504,217 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
269 of 274 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book I've Read This Year November 27, 1999
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I think that this is the best book that I have read all year. In some sense this is the book that I have been looking for for twenty-five years--the book that will enable me to understand how a computer does what it does. And--given the centrality of computers in our age--it has been a long wait. But now it is over. Charles Petzold (1999), Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software does a much better job than anything else I have ever seen in explaining computers--what they really are, and how they really work.
Have you ever wondered just how your computers really work? I mean, really, really work. Not as in "an electrical signal from memory tells the processor the number to be added," but what the electrical signal is, and how it accomplishes the magic of switching on the circuits that add while switching off the other circuits that would do other things with the number. I have. I have wondered this a lot over the past decades.
Yet somehow over the past several decades my hunger for an explanation has never been properly met. I have listened to people explain how two switches wired in series are an "AND"--only if both switches are closed will the lightbulb light. I have listened to people explain how IP is a packet-based communications protocol and TCP is a connection-based protocol yet the connection-based protocal can ride on top of the packet-based protocol. Somehow these explanations did not satisfy. One seemed like answering "how does a car work?" by telling how in the presence of oxygen carbon-hydrogen bonds are broken and carbon dioxide and water are created. The other seemed like anwering "how does a car work" by telling how if you step on the accelerator the car moves forward.
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105 of 107 people found the following review helpful
The average person who uses a computer to surf the web or type letters has so little knowledge of the underlying technology he or she is using that it may as well be magic. Even programmers, who typically spend their days solving problems with the high-end abstractedness of object-orientation, may be more than a little unclear about what's actually going on inside the box when their compiled code is running.
Petzold attempts, and largely succeeds at, writing a book that leaves the reasonably intelligent layperson with a thorough comprehension of each layer that comprises a modern electronic computer (binary coding -> electronic representation -> transistors -> logic gates -> integrated circuits -> microprocessors -> opcodes -> assembly language -> high-level language -> applications). At times, the reader must follow along carefully, but Petzold tries to avoid needless complication.
Code is a well written and very entertaining explanation of the digital electronic technology that has become an integral part of our daily lives. Short of getting a degree in electrical engineering, this book is your best bet to understand how it works.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Charles Petzold a does an outstanding job of explaining the basic workings of a computer. His story begins with a description of various ways of coding information including Braille, Morse code, and binary code. He then describes the development of hardware beginning with a description of the development of telegraph and relays. This leads into the development of transistors and logic gates and switches. Boolean logic is described and numerous electrical circuits are diagramed showing the electrical implementation of Boolean logic. The book describes circuits to add and subtract binary numbers. The development of hexadecimal code is described. Memory circuits are assembled by stringing logic gates together. Two basic microprocessors are described - the Intel 8080 and the Motorola 6800. Machine language, assembly language, and some higher level software languages are covered. There is a chapter on operating systems. This book provides a very nice historical perspective on the development of computers. It is entertaining and only rarely bogs down in technical detail.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
By john
Yes, that's right! CODE is the greatest book on the face of the earth!
Why? Here's my story, and go judge for yourself.
I'm using computers for around four years. My question was always "How is this thing doing it's stuff?". Although I have no idea how other electronic stuff work, the computer did bothered me more then anything else because the computer seems to do some kind of THINKING, that's why it triggered my THINKING. This question kept on staying in my head until two weeks ago. It really bothered me. All along this four years I was looking for an answer to my question. I bought books, went to the library a thousand times, but nothing helped me. I learned a few programming languages along my journey, but it did not clarify how it really works. So I decided to learn Assembly Language because I taught that that's where I'm going to find the answer to my question. I must admit that it did helped me out quite a bit, but not to the extent I expected. I used a great book called "Assembly Language Step-by-Step" by Jeff Duntemann, which is a great book, but since the subject of the book is not to teach you how computers work, it didn't helped me enough to satisfy my desire for the answer to my question. I contacted Jeff Duntemann, the author of the book and I told him my problem. He referred me to this book CODE. So I rushed and bought this book. The rest of the story is self-understood, the book made my day and my life. And that's why I'm restating "This is the greatest book on the face of the earth".
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Microsoft Publication
More money to Bill Gates!? After getting this, and realizing this, I thought, maybe, that it would be a real introduction to computer science. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Fred Rowe
5.0 out of 5 stars Understand how computers really do what they do and why they are the...
I picked this book up for something to read during a recent long trip; I had heard good things about it, so I decided to give it a chance. Read more
Published 26 days ago by Joshua Davies
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book about how computers came to be
This book is a nice collection of knowledge about how computers came to be and why it happened the way it did. I loved how many facts he added to the book.
Published 1 month ago by Michael L Stokes
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that every software engineer should carry.
I've come across many books/professors/lecturers/tutors in this industry. But honestly there are very few (really very few) who can illustrate and explain concepts as Charles did... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Raja Ramanathan
5.0 out of 5 stars Astoundingly Brilliant, and fairly easy to grasp
In Code, the author - Charles Petzold - builds a computer from the ground up. The concepts he presented were fairly easy to grasp. Read more
Published 2 months ago by David
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended
Really nice book, totally recommended for anyone. Its well written and easy to understand. Shipped to Argentina without a problem.
Published 2 months ago by Mariano
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Easy to read.It is a great book which widens my world of computer knowledge and offers an comprehensive understanding for the beginners.
Published 3 months ago by pengdyu
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Excellent Book!
Teaches you how computers work in a way that you don't even realize it until you get half-way thru it. It's well-written and easy to read and understand. Read more
Published 4 months ago by G. Nickoloff
4.0 out of 5 stars Changes pretty dramatically after a few chapters.
Let me revise my previous review with a few brief things to say about this.

First, this book has a lot of pictures and diagrams and you'll want to frequently go back to... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ryan McNamara
5.0 out of 5 stars Code
this book was recommended for my computer class to help under stand the structure of programing and i would recommend it.
Published 4 months ago by Carolyn Reeves
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Topic From this Discussion
Still Accurate?
Yes of course it is and I think your question points out a bit of a misnomer that many people may have about electronic circuits.
The concepts that he presents (and he mentions this out explicitly in his text) use methods (ie logic gates & relays etc) that have been in use for more than 100-150... Read More
Nov 30, 2013 by R. Truscott |  See all 2 posts
Where is the Kindle edition?
Yeah, where is it? I want to buy a copy.
Jan 23, 2012 by Carlos Santiviago |  See all 2 posts
Thoughts on the the Kindle edition?
The kindle formatting is fine. I don't have a printed copy to compare it to but the diagrams are reproduced clearly and you can zoom in on them if you need to. A few of the circuit diagrams would probably benefit from color but it's not a huge deal.
Jan 3, 2012 by A. Pushkin |  See all 3 posts
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