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Early Microcomputer Software... Wow!

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  • DougCrawford
    So I was poking around on Intel 4004 and came across materials on the first 4004 implementation, the 141-PF calculator.
    Message 1 of 5 , Jan 12, 2013
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      So I was poking around on Intel 4004 and came across materials
      on the first 4004 implementation, the 141-PF calculator.

      http://www.4004.com/2009/Busicom-141PF-Calculator_asm_rel-1-0-1.txt
      (Explore 4004.com if you haven't)

      I was surprised to find that the software written as a interpreter; an engine written in Intel 4004 machine code that processed a set of calculator pseudo instructions. I really expected a brute-force native machine code implementation. I suspect I highly underestimate the software engineering concepts that existed before the microprocessor, which would have yielded such a sophisticated implementation right from the get-go on the 4004.

      Hope you find this interesting also.
      There's some very cool stuff being done with visual simulators of old processors too, which is how I got down this path.
      The Visual 6502 project is linked from 4004.com near the top,
      if you haven't seen it, its worth a look.
    • Dave McGuire
      ... Software technology didn t begin with microprocessors, you know. ;) Before the microprocessor era, the *smartest people on the planet* were working on
      Message 2 of 5 , Jan 12, 2013
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        On 01/12/2013 11:22 AM, DougCrawford wrote:
        > So I was poking around on Intel 4004 and came across materials on the
        > first 4004 implementation, the 141-PF calculator.
        >
        > http://www.4004.com/2009/Busicom-141PF-Calculator_asm_rel-1-0-1.txt
        > (Explore 4004.com if you haven't)
        >
        > I was surprised to find that the software written as a interpreter;
        > an engine written in Intel 4004 machine code that processed a set of
        > calculator pseudo instructions. I really expected a brute-force
        > native machine code implementation. I suspect I highly underestimate
        > the software engineering concepts that existed before the
        > microprocessor, which would have yielded such a sophisticated
        > implementation right from the get-go on the 4004.

        Software technology didn't begin with microprocessors, you know. ;)

        Before the microprocessor era, the *smartest people on the planet*
        were working on computers. There were extraordinarily elegant
        algorithms, data structures, etc in existence well before the 4004. In
        fact, most of what we have today in modern software traces its lineage,
        sometimes with almost no modification, back to the pre-4004 era.

        Dig back into the history of those days, and prepare to be amazed. I
        grab every 1950s and 1960s computer technology book I can find...there's
        a lot of overlap, but between all the authors' different viewpoints, one
        can get a nicely-rounded picture of what those guys were doing in those
        days.

        -Dave

        --
        Dave McGuire, AK4HZ
        New Kensington, PA
      • DougCrawford
        ... Yes I should! Got a few recommendations?
        Message 3 of 5 , Jan 12, 2013
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          > Dig back into the history of those days, and prepare to be amazed. I
          > grab every 1950s and 1960s computer technology book I can find...

          Yes I should!
          Got a few recommendations?
        • billdeg@degnanco.com
          start with Steven Levy’s Hackers. Sent from Windows Mail From: DougCrawford Sent: ‎January‎ ‎13‎, ‎2013 ‎12‎:‎41‎ ‎AM To:
          Message 4 of 5 , Jan 13, 2013
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            start with Steven Levy’s Hackers.
             
            Sent from Windows Mail
             
            From: DougCrawford
            Sent: ‎January‎ ‎13‎, ‎2013 ‎12‎:‎41‎ ‎AM
            To: midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: [midatlanticretro] Re: Early Microcomputer Software... Wow!
             

            >   Dig back into the history of those days, and prepare to be amazed.  I
            > grab every 1950s and 1960s computer technology book I can find...

            Yes I should!
            Got a few recommendations?




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          • Dave McGuire
            ... For the horse s mouth , there s really no way to beat Collected Algorithms from ACM . It s a bit like reading an encyclopedia, and it s extremely dense
            Message 5 of 5 , Jan 14, 2013
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              On 01/13/2013 12:41 AM, DougCrawford wrote:
              >> Dig back into the history of those days, and prepare to be amazed. I
              >> grab every 1950s and 1960s computer technology book I can find...
              >
              > Yes I should!
              > Got a few recommendations?

              For "the horse's mouth", there's really no way to beat "Collected
              Algorithms from ACM". It's a bit like reading an encyclopedia, and it's
              extremely dense information, but it's great stuff. Basically all the
              algorithms we know and love, in the form in which they were FIRST
              published. The classic sorting algorithms, for example...reading the
              articles their developers wrote to introduce them to the world, along
              with example code (sometimes pseudocode), is very enlightening. That
              set of books is very expensive, but worth ten times the price.

              For the architectural side of things, "Parallel Computing" by Hockney
              and Jesshope is possibly one of the finest books I own. (and, forgive
              me, I own quite a few) It's not about stuff like "clusters of Linux
              boxes"...it's about parallel*ISM* in computing, in the way that an
              eight-bit computer processes eight bits in parallel, or two bytes in
              parallel (typically) when doing sixteen-bit math, etc. There are
              varying degrees of parallelism everywhere, and that book taught me how
              to recognize it. It also includes some case studies and in-depth
              descriptions of some computer architectures. There are very few books
              that I can recommend as highly as this one.

              -Dave

              --
              Dave McGuire, AK4HZ
              New Kensington, PA
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