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32 Reviews
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A genuinely brilliant book
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...
Published on 9 April 2007 by Carlos Martinez

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
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. For anyone wanting an introduction to computing and IT this is an excellent place to start.
My reason for giving one star is the appalling page formatting on the Kindle version. The whole book is justified flush left & ragged right, which...
Published 9 months ago by scaryspic


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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
This review is from: Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software (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
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for IT Professionals who are not quite sure how computers work!, 25 July 2013
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Mark Shackelford "mark shackelford" (Worthing, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software (Paperback)
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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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars how a computer REALLY works, 25 April 2002
This review is from: Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software (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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read informative book, 25 April 2011
This review is from: Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software (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
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
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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
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This review is from: Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software (Paperback)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Layman''s guide to computers for Non-Idiots ,,,, 23 April 2012
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This review is from: Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software (Paperback)
An excellent, informative book which attempts to explain how computers REALLY work. Set out in clear, everyday language but definitely not for the lazy-thinker or in any way 'dumbed-down' to accommodate the 'idiot' reader. Ideal for those of at least average intelligence who genuinely wish to learn.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellant book, 25 Oct 2001
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This review is from: Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software (Paperback)
This is an excellant book! The author starts by explaining how a flashlight works and slowly builds from this, explaining how switches are combined to create logic gates, how gate form circuits, etc. He follows this incremental approach to explain the actual nuts and bolts workings of computers, such as memory and the various interacting parts of a processor architecture.
He also explains some important aspects of elementary information coding theory, alternative number bases, and other bits and pieces of abstract math that are needed to understand functional low level computer science.
Also, although the subject matter is not watered down in content, the presentation is very clear and well structured.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in computer science or information coding theory.
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Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software
Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software by Charles Petzold (Paperback - 21 Oct 2000)
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