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why I like assembly
To: CRTech <crtech@crtech.org>
Subject: why I like assembly
From: Alan Kilgore <wrvm.engineer@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2018 16:56:37 -0600
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Reading these memories makes me feel how I have aged.

At college in the 70s I programmed Fortan on the large IBM360 and ran Basic, assembly and machine code on the HP2000E time-shared mini-computer.

At home I started out with a couple of machines with only toggle switches for input and discrete LEDs for output. The CPU was something like a 6502 IIRC. That was truly programming in machine code. When you have used one of those computers, you really understood what it meant to "boot" the initial code for a computer to have I/O. That had to be done even before loading a saved program. It probably does not mean nearly as much to someone who has never really done that manually in binary using switches.

In the early 80s I got a couple Vic20s followed by a couple C=64s. I started out with cassette tape storage then added FDD shortly after it became available. By the mid-80s I got a portable C=64 with built in dual FDD and color monitor. I connected larger external drives to the portable when at the office. That seemed like the big times for personal computing... but then Tandy started coming out with their usable TRS80 computers. I stayed away from those. The C in C=64 stood for the Commodore brand. So, we called my favorite brand the "commode-door 64" computer and we called the Tandy TRS-80 computers the "trash-80".

It was amazing how much could be done with such small resources on those very early personal computers along with some programming ingenuity. A few of us used to compete writing small programs to see who could create the smallest, fastest code having equivalent results.

Ah, the memories. I wrote code for a CATV billing program using the C=64 and used Vic-20s for the video of a CATV bulletin board channel. Those were in the days when there were a lot of mom & pop systems,

I also wrote software to do FM channel studies on a better-equipped C=64 but I had to enter the station info since getting FCC data was too slow using dial-up internet (300/1200 bps (that's bits /sec, *not* kbps) modem in rural areas) back then. I later translated it to work on PC computers and added contour spacing, FCC data using faster modems (local ISP came to town), pop counts, 2nd/3rd adj channel protection radiation from xltr antennas, etc. After FCC converted to CDBS databases, for quite a number of years I still used the flat database version the FCC continued providing for legacy software.

One day I finally gave up trying to update my code for rule changes and features so I talked my employer into paying for commercial software. It is amazing how "rusty" and "behind the times" a person can get by stopping cold turkey and not keeping up with the rapidly changing world of coding.

Trivia: I read somewhere that the Apollo landing modules that landed on the moon in the 60s had a computer back then which contained only 2K RAM (magnetic core memory) and the CPU was discrete RTL gate ICs. Interesting reading at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_Guidance_Computer

Alan Kilgore, CPBE
WRVM Chief Engineer

At 01:58 PM 1/31/2018, you wrote:

I remember those days! Had a Vic20 and still have a couple of C64s and a couple of monitors.


On 01/30/2018 12:28 PM, Tom Beattie wrote:
Willie did you type in a bunch of machine code from Compute's Gazette for the word processor that they published (among other things) I too am a VIC20 refugee. I still have a C=64. =)

Tom Beattie

Follow-Ups: Re: why I like assembly
(Rick Jesse <javajava56@gmail.com>, 1 Feb 2018 13:51:34 -0000)
Re: why I like assembly
(Dave Land <dave@klvv.com>, 1 Feb 2018 16:52:56 -0000)
RE: why I like assembly
(Jack Epperson <Jack.Epperson@alphamediausa.com>, 1 Feb 2018 20:37:47 -0000)
References: why i like assembly
(dave allen <crtech-mail@reyware.us>, 27 Jan 2018 06:22:53 -0000)
Re: why i like assembly
(Willie Barnett <wbradiolists@gmail.com>, 29 Jan 2018 14:21:46 -0000)
Re: why i like assembly
(Tom Beattie <tom@tombeattie.com>, 30 Jan 2018 20:29:23 -0000)
Re: why i like assembly
(Paul Brown <pbrown@kvip.org>, 31 Jan 2018 19:58:51 -0000)
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