Article For Thought

Charles Curley charlescurley at charlescurley.com
Wed Dec 19 23:19:51 MST 2007


On Wed, Dec 19, 2007 at 10:44:16AM -0700, Nathan Blackham wrote:

> Without futher ado:
> http://steve-yegge.blogspot.com/2007/12/codes-worst-enemy.html

Intersting. I'm not going to read the whole thing, but I do appreciate
his point.

20 years ago, I had a compiler, interpreter, operating system, and
maybe an assembler, all in 8 Kb. 12 Kb on 32 bit processors. It ran in
as little as 16 Kb, but I preferred 24 Kb. I could port it to a new
processor in a few weeks, and once I had the processor down I could
put it on a new computer in as little as an hour. The source code fit
on a DSDD floppy, along with editors, assemblers, the cross compiler
(it was self hosting), decompilers, single steppers, disassemblers and
other tools. Oh, and a few games. And an IDE.

This was not a toy. I made my living writing fun things like dimmer
boards and microprocessor development stations with it.

I understood it. Far better than I understand any of the tools I use
today. I could go in and tweak it, and know the implications of doing
so far better than the implications of tweaks I make today.

That system also took an unusual approach to programming. If you write
the code to run, say, a washing machine, in C or Java, you write a
washing machine in C or Java. But what this tool kit let me do was
write a language for writing washing machines in. Then writing the
actual washing machine would be easy, less than a page of code,
because you're writing it in a washing machine language. "rinse" is a
verb in the language you're working in, not the name of some function
or object. I didn't care about functions or objects; I just wanted to
get those clothes rinsed.

Bloat? There was none; you can't afford bloat when you only have 8 Kb
of ROM space and the processor is something brain dead like an 8080.

-- 

Charles Curley                  /"\    ASCII Ribbon Campaign
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