Friends this is my review of the book Code by Charles Petzold – The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software, which I read recently. This is a book that I was given a few years ago, and had not got round to reading. It is a factual history of how machine code was invented, and how it is put together to make the basic building blocks of a modern day computer.
He starts off with Morse code, and moves to Braille and progresses on from there with a review of technological innovations that have lead to the modern computer. It was sobering to think that he was talking about things that I did back in 1976, when we built our first machine, and had to code in the bootstrap sequence with a series of switches on the front of the machine. I remember it could take quite some time if one made a mistake, and once running we tried our hardest not to crash the machine and cause a restart because of this.
Having explained how a machine copes with binary, via switches and gates, Charles gradually shows how things can be put together to produce memory via flip-flop gates. He then follows the logical process of putting everything together in ever greater blocks eventually leading to the computer chip.
From there he covers the bus, input and outputs. As Charles goes into great detail explaining how the circuits work, and how the code coming from the various outputs/inputs effects other parts of the system, it is not a book that can be read that quickly. But it is very interesting in showing how we have got to the basic computer chips of the 1980's.
If these seem complicated then ones of the present day are mind blowing. It is a book that helps one understand the essence of how a computer works, so if you are not interested in computing then you will find it very hard going.
This was book 44 week 33 fiction 40 (11 on audio) non fiction 4
Dyslexic doodles on photography, food (growing, cooking & of course eating), faith and other fascinating things. This is a personal blog expressing my views.