What do flashlights, the British invasion, black cats, and seesaws have to do with computers? In CODE, they show us the ingenious ways we manipulate language and invent new means of communicating with each other. And through CODE, we see how this ingenuity and our very human compulsion to communicate have driven the technological innovations of the past two centuries.
Using everyday objects and familiar language systems such as Braille and Morse code, author Charles Petzold weaves an illuminating narrative for anyone who’s ever wondered about the secret inner life of computers and other smart machines.
It’s a cleverly illustrated and eminently comprehensible story—and along the way, you’ll discover you’ve gained a real context for understanding today’s world of PCs, digital media, and the Internet. No matter what your level of technical savvy, CODE will charm you—and perhaps even awaken the technophile within.
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.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Best Friends
Chapter 2. Codes and Combinations
Chapter 3. Braille and Binary Codes
Chapter 4. Anatomy of a Flashlight
Chapter 5. Seeing Around Corners
Chapter 6. Telegraphs and Relays
Chapter 7. Our Ten Digits
Chapter 8. Alternatives to Ten
Chapter 9. Bit by Bit by Bit
Chapter 10. Logic and Switches
Chapter 11. Gates (Not Bill)
Chapter 12. A Binary Adding Machine
Chapter 13. But What About Subtraction
Chapter 14. Feedback and Flip-Flops
Chapter 15. Bytes and Hex
Chapter 16. An Assemblage of Memory
Chapter 17. Automation
Chapter 18. From Abaci to Chips
Chapter 19. Two Classic Microprocessors
Chapter 20. ASCII and a Cast of Characters
Chapter 21. Get on the Bus
Chapter 22. The Operating System
Chapter 23. Fixed Point, Floating Point
Chapter 24. Languages High and Low
Chapter 25. The Graphical Revolution
Appendix A. Acknowledgments
Appendix B. Bibliography