[vcf-midatlantic] assembler is tedious (was WooHoo!) (Jeffrey Jonas)

Chris Fala chrisjpf33 at gmail.com
Thu Aug 3 15:18:59 EDT 2017

Very good points, Herb!

On Thu, Aug 3, 2017 at 11:31 AM, Herb Johnson via vcf-midatlantic <
vcf-midatlantic at lists.vintagecomputerfederation.org> wrote:

> There's some irony in discussing the tedium of assembly language
> programming, by using (excuse me) the tedium of emails as a learning and
> describing tool. It's my bias, but the hardest way to learn something, is
> by having several people explain it, post streams of details, argue amongst
> each other in the process, get sidetracked, etc. I understand, that's the
> 21st century way; no insult, it's just not my 20th century way (or my
> textbook way, I was formally educated in computing).
> Look. The vintage basis for assembly-language programming, included the
> limited resources available to microprocessor owners in the 1970's.
> Hand-assembly and front panels, limited memory, limited I/O, limited
> storage. Limited access to prior source-code. The other limitation was the
> owner him/herself: programming was likely a mystery, at least programming
> that particular processor, and later in time the mystery of whatever
> "system" architecture in use.
> Results matter. Those owners learned, became computing experts, who became
> employed in the personal-computer boom to come.
> So - that old-school way, mattered then; and matters now as a matter of
> historic preservation. So why preserve it? To remember the lessons of the
> 20th century past: a past of limited resources, versus the 21st century
> experiences of ABUNDANT, STANDARDIZED computing.
> And so, calling assembly language programming "tedious" misses these
> points, imposes those 21st century assumptions on 20th century tech.
> This is not some old man's problem with the future. My vintage Web site,
> attracts people who ask me "I wanna start with some vintage computing;
> where do I learn, how to program and repair these things?" I'm stumped -
> modern resources have mostly given up "assembly language" and "TTL logic"
> or even "read this schematic"!
> If the above is too "tedious", if you are messing with vintage computers
> "for fun", and don't care about historic perspective, that's fine. But you
> have a choice. Try to sledge-hammer C code (or some language-of-the-year)
> from a cross-compiler into an Apple II, and trip over all the I/O it needs
> to "know"? Or, work within the Apple II's BASIC, Sweet-16, and
> assembly-language calls (documented long ago) - in assembler (readily
> accessible) - and get something DONE? And learn something "old"?
> If you are worried about looking trivial - buy a Raspberry Pi and
> *guarantee* your results are trivial, just in a larger social group.
> Harumph,
> Herb Johnson
> --
> Herbert R. Johnson, New Jersey in the USA
> http://www.retrotechnology.com OR .net
> preserve, recover, restore 1970's computing
> email: hjohnson AT retrotechnology DOT com
> or try later herbjohnson AT retrotechnology DOT info

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