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28865Re: Altair 8800 Web Emulator

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  • corey986
    Jan 8, 2013
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      I 100% agree. Having to "flip" switches or even type in the ocal/hex by hand has made me a better programmer. This actually came up at dinner last night (I'm at training in Texas right now) where we were talking about the "old" days and how people who lived through toggling in a boot loader on a PDP8 seemed to be more efficient in their resource utilization as programmers than the guys who started programming with Visual Basic who tend to be sloppy in memory and resource usage. It was a pretty heated converstation enhanced by wine and Fogo de Chao "Meat" high....

      Cheers,
      Corey
      --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, "B. Degnan" wrote:
      >
      >
      > > >
      > > On the Altair do you actually use the _ key for deleting a character? On
      > a
      > > teletype they normally used the rubout key that gave code 127. On modern
      >
      > > keyvoards that is normally the delete key and backspace used code 8.
      > > The teletype doesn't have a backspace key though you can generate the
      > > code with control-h.
      > > (Rubout third row third from right)
      > > http://www.pdp8online.com/asr33/pics/kbd_top.shtml?large
      > >
      > > THe printing _ is because of teletypes. A teletype can't back up other
      > than
      > > a carrage return. Even if it did you wouldn't be able to reliably read
      > > the new character printed on top of the old so they printed the
      > underscore
      > > for each character "backed up". On the PDP-8 you use the delete key and
      > > it prints the _ when configured for teletype.
      > >
      >
      > In PDP 8 OS/8 using a glass vt102 terminal with a backspace key, under
      > standard configuration, use of backspace will generate an error even if
      > your command looks correct before you hit enter
      >
      > If you type this..
      > .RUN RKA0;
      >
      > ..and then use the backspace key to correct (change semi-colon to
      > colon)...
      > .RUN RKA0:BASIC.SV [enter]
      >
      > ...OS/8 will return an OS syntax error.
      >
      > My original point - you can find a way to add backspace ability, but it
      > was not really an option back then so you have to decide whether it matters
      > to you or not to bypass the historic limitation of the time.
      >
      > I believe that there is value to experience what it was really like to work
      > in this environment without modern shortcuts. If to engineer a new program
      > you are required to toggle bootstraps, load a tape, enter code by hand,
      > punch the tape on the teletype, and so on you'll start to change your
      > approach to programming. The first thing you realize is that it's best to
      > try to write and debug as much of the code by hand before you enter into
      > the computer. That's why a lot of Altair docs I have come upon have sheets
      > and sheets of pseudo code and hand-written listings along with the manuals.
      > People did not use the computer to write and edit code like they do today,
      > too time consuming. You had to be more precise in your data entry and more
      > organized in your approach. No one would want to sit there for a half hour
      > to punch a tape, then another half hour to run the tape just to find a
      > single syntax error crashes the whole program. That's why there were a lot
      > less people doing programming and hardware back then, this kind of work was
      > not for everyone. It gives you a real appreciation for those people
      > (before my time btw) who did all of this stuff when it was new back then,
      > and what motivated the likes of Woz/Jobs to make something easier to use.
      >
      > Not everyone has the luxury of walking up to a computer with a teletype. I
      > think it would be a great service if we had an exhibit / demo for MARCH's
      > museum to show people what it was like to use a teletype for I/O and
      > program storage. I would not recommend allowing the public to use it
      > though, it'd have to be a ready-to-go demo for someone that had an hour to
      > witness the entire process, maybe with a little lecture to kill time
      > between the tape loads/punches.
      >
      > Bill
      >
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