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Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software Paperback – October 21, 2000
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Charles Petzold has been writing about Windows programming for 25 years. A Windows Pioneer Award winner, Petzold is author of the classic Programming Windows, the widely acclaimed Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software, Programming Windows Phone 7, and more than a dozen other books.
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The build-up from basic relays to a working computer concept is excellent. It really gave me some fresh insight into the connection between logic and hardware.
The latter parts get very heavy into assembly language, and the final couple chapters are dated. The final chapter seems a little hurried, but to the authors credit it's impossible to keep up with the technological advancements in computing and the internet with a print book.
Overall a great book that takes the reader on a great journey of the evolution of electronics and computers.
The author frequently jumps into very important history of technology and people who pioneered the technology, which is not only interesting, but also gives a great angle on the reasons for the way technology has progressed.
I believe this book should be a fun read for someone with very limited experience with computer software and hardware, and perhaps that this should be required reading for anyone interested in Computer Science or Computer Engineering.