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Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software [Paperback]

Charles Petzold
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
RRP: £10.99
Price: £7.69 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

21 Oct 2000 0735611319 978-0735611313 1

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.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 395 pages
  • Publisher: Microsoft Press; 1 edition (21 Oct 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0735611319
  • ISBN-13: 978-0735611313
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Crossing over into general-interest non-fiction from his popular programming manuals, Charles Petzold has written Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software. It's a carefully written, carefully researched gem that will appeal to anyone who wants to understand computer technology at its most essential levels. Readers learn about number systems(decimal, octal, binary and all that) through Petzold's patient (and frequently entertaining) prose, 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 the stories of people trying to find ways to communicate with (and by means of) mechanical and electrical devices. It's a fascinating progression of technologies and the author presents a clear statement of how they fit together.

The real value of Code is in its explanations of technologies that have been obscured for years behind fancy user interfaces and programming environments that, 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 Motorola6800 processors. He walks the reader through the process of performing various operations with each chip, explaining which op codes poke which values into which registers along the way. Petzold knows that the hidden language of computers exhibits real beauty. In Code, he helps his 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Charles Petzold wrote the classic Programming Windows®, which is currently in its fifth edition and one of the best-known and widely used programming books of all time. He was honored in 1994 with the Windows Pioneer Award, presented by Microsoft® founder Bill Gates and Windows Magazine. He has been programming with Windows since first obtaining a beta Windows 1.0 SDK in the spring of 1985, and he wrote the very first magazine article on Windows programming in 1986. Charles is an MVP for Client Application Development and the author of several other books including Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars how a computer REALLY works 25 April 2002
By ian
Format:Paperback
This is the only book I've found which REALLY tells the story of how computers work in a simple and easy to read form. That's not to say that anything has been watered down - this is the real stuff, and occasionally it gets a little heavy, but it fills in a much needed gap. Most books either cover digital electronics, or computer architecture, and few explain the leap that you need to make to get from one to the other.
On the negative side, the machine design is a little dated, and a register transfer architecture might have worked better.
The sections on operating systems are simply not up to the standard of the rest of the book, but the book is work it for the rest anyway.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A genuinely brilliant book 9 April 2007
Format:Paperback
Charles Petzold is an excellent writer, and he gets to grips with difficult material in a way that makes it accessible for the uninitiated. I have worked as a computer programmer for years, but, having grown up with 'high level' programming languages, most of the material here was new to me. The book will fill in some very important gaps for a lot of IT professionals. Meanwhile, it is perfectly readable for someone completely new to the subject (a couple of chapters will be tough going, but you'll get it if you persist).

Top marks.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent exposition of an interesting subject 10 Feb 2000
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Petzold explains the architecture of computing systems by deriving from first principles, as it were; starting off with simple concepts such as telegraph relays and morse code, he quickly uses simple building blocks to describe more advanced concepts. The author has clearly written this book at his leisure rather than to a deadline, and the relaxed tone of the book makes for an entertaining read, given the potentially dry subject matter. The author's enthusiasm for his topic comes across well and the use of two colours throughout the book assists understanding. This book would make excellent background reading for many CompSci or Electronics courses, or a great present for someone with any interest in technology. Recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Mark Shackelford TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a software development manager, I employ many programmers (and other assorted life forms), and although they are (often) well versed in Object Oriented coding and High-Level languages, there is often a gap in their knowledge of the basics of computer science.
What are the constituent elements of a computer? How is a CPU put together? How do transistors work? How do you build a logic gate? What is electricity? What is Assembly Language and how does it compare to Machine Code?

Although you don't need to know the answers to these questions to be a good programmer - it is a bit like being a good car driver, but not really understanding how the internal combustion engine works - or how an automatic gearbox works... I think it is useful to understand the basics of the beast you are using - it at least makes you understand some of the potential foibles!

I thoroughly recommend this book to all IT professionals.

It starts with very very simple ideas - how to pass messages when you have only got an On/Off switch.
This then builds up through telephone relays, Morse Code, electricity to build simple logic gates... all the way to building a PC

Well written, with each topic explained elegantly and simply, this is a wonderful book that explains the fundamentals of computing. I started in IT (back in the 1970's) writing Assembler code for numeric controlled machines - so some of this was nostalgic history.
It is not quite up to date (still talking about floppy discs) - but for a comprehensive overview of the design and development of computers - this is excellent.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read informative book 25 April 2011
By robing
Format:Paperback
It is rare that you will find a book with such a volume of information and in such an easy to read format. You don't even notice how much technical information you are taking in; it is like reading a good novel. It contains some very good analogies and make things easy to understand.

The only one small bad point is that it is a small bit dated. However don't let this put you off as there are very few parts where you will notice this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must read for techno nostalgia 13 Jan 2000
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This is a well written and entertaining read covering the evolution of modern day hardware and software. The historical perspective is good, and the text is peppered with many interesting and humorous anecdotes. The last couple of chapters covering modern Programming Languages and Operating Systems however are much too rushed and cramped.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Readable introduction to computers 19 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the introductory text I would have wanted to read about computers. It takes a clear, practical, approach, building from first principles.

I really got a sense of how to build a computer from the technology of the telegraph, until the sheer number of parts became apparent. It is easy to see how crucial transistors and IC's are to making a practical computer.

I also enjoyed the sections on software - a great way to bring both hardware and software together. Would be a good read for someone learning the theory behind an Arduino, for example.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind boggling 28 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I wanted to teach myself the complicated world of computer codes and language. As a complete novice to this I found the book really useful and easy to read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for the lazy reader
Requires more patience than I could muster. This is not really a book for the interested amateur. Petzold does not take any short-cuts so unless you are prepared to put in a LOT of... Read more
Published 10 days ago by D. Goldstone
5.0 out of 5 stars Any teacher who's now teaching computer science or building lessons...
Fantastic book, I'm a software developer and I find a lot of this quite basic but still very interesting. The way the topics are presented are very well. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Elliot Blackburn
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good postage and great quality, cheers.
Published 1 month ago by LT
5.0 out of 5 stars Written and Informative
This is a really well written and informative book. Great to read and takes you through all the steps needed to improve your knowledge of how computers work.
Published 1 month ago by Stuart Miller
4.0 out of 5 stars I'll have to read it again
I was looking for answers to some questions about programming,this book has been very satisfying.I will be reading it again because I haven't quite gotten all the information... Read more
Published 4 months ago by gary
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear, concise and overwhelmingly informative
In spite of having a few years of programming experience under my belt, I often felt frustrated at my lack of lower layer knowledge of computer function. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Charlie Brodie
5.0 out of 5 stars i love it
Very happy with the purchase
superb quality
exactly as advertised

Very very happy
I have already sent the link to my friends as well

thanks... Read more
Published 5 months ago by A. A. Sultan
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good book
A very good book, the writer gradually progresses you through the information steadily in a way which allows it to be easily understood. I definitely recommend this. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Kieron
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy this product.
This product does not work at all.
It smells like bikes, feels like bikes and it is greasy.
I gave this product to a friend of mine, he used it and it made no difference... Read more
Published 6 months ago by MAJ
1.0 out of 5 stars Great book, atrocious/appalling ebook formatting.
Excellent book that gets down to the nuts and bolts of how computers work. The author explains the basics and builds from there. Read more
Published 9 months ago by scaryspic
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