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Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software Paperback – 21 Oct 2000
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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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As an example of this book's greatness, it introduces the concept of binary mathematics through simple, intuitive examples (e.g. trying to communicate with someone in the dark using a torch). By the end of the first chapter you feel as though you understand the base-2 system—not as some kind of arbitrary standard chosen by figures from the past, but because of the immense power available from just two states (on/off, etc.). Petzold explains the logic behind Morse code and Braille, before one of the best introductions to basic physics I have ever read.
The greatest pleasure of this book, I think, is that after each chapter you never know whether you're going to learn about hardware or software—and that leads to the kind of excitement that can only be generated by a truly wonderful teacher. It is no exaggeration to say that this book is a masterpiece, and you should pick it up whether you're interested in understanding the inner workings of the technology inside the tools you use every day, or whether you want to continue your scientific education.
The first third or so explains the concepts of information, data representation, number systems, communication, Boolan logic, and logic gates.
The next third uses this foundation to describe and explain how differetn chipsets operate, inputs/outputs, and how operations such as arithmetic, looping, and memory allocation are conducted. This section can get a little dry in places, which is my only negative thing to say about this book.
The final section explains how programming langauges work, starting from Assembler, through to C, and on to thier high level languages. It also discusses things such as ASCII, graphics, OOP, buses and user space.
As an electronic and software engineer, I thought this book would just be light reading, but it was actually very informative and more useful than a lot of textbooks I have read. I highly recommend it to anyone even remotely interested in how hardware or software operate, or even anyone who has always assumed that computing is too complicated to understand. This book will prove you wrong!
The author starts off at a very basic conceptual level and is very very informative, which helps you get a feel for some of the key concepts in computer programming.
As you gain more and more knowledge through the course of the book the level of detail also increases to match your learning.
I highly recommend this book and I am now training to be a software developer.
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The book is not as original as he claims.Read more