Now this looks interesting - Halt and Catch Fire

A new series on AMC:

In 1983 Texas, three rebels reverse engineer an IBM PC and shake up the booming computer industry in AMC’s new original series Halt and Catch Fire.

In the initial stages of computing, there were no real high-level languages that would compile down to assembly code to run on your machine. You would first have to boot your machine and then load your BASIC interpreter and then load your BASIC program. Versatile but s...l...o...w...

If you wanted to create a program that would just run and run efficiently, it had to be written in assembly language. This is the base-level of operation of the CPU chip in your computer. In order to not have to remember all of the ones and zeros for each command, Operational Codes were assigned to each command.

Therefore, issuing a 10001010 to a Z-80 CPU would make it ADD the contents of the Accumulator to the contents of Register C with a Carry if there was any overflow.

This was notated as 8A in Hexadecimal notation (base 16) and as ADC as its OpCode

You could then input ADC xxxx (where xxxx is your number) into a line in your assembler program and it would output the correct binary numbers to be fed to your Z-80.

Better assemblers would also check for syntax and make sure you weren't trying to use non-existent OpCodes or memory locations.

As OpCodes came into wide use, so did other kinds of OpCodes. Here are a few examples from this canonical list collected by Bryan Dunlap at Ohio State University:

AAC Alter All Commands
AAD Alter All Data
AAR Alter At Random
ACQT Advance Clock to Quitting Time
BAF Blow All Fuses
BDC Break Down and Cry

One of the more famous ones was HCF - Halt and Catch Fire.

Glad to see that someone on the staff had enough of the history to use that for the show title -- looking forward to watching it.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on May 10, 2014 10:58 AM.

Climate stupidity in the news - the BBC's Environment correspondent Matt McGrath was the previous entry in this blog.

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