Article For Thought

Justin Findlay justin at
Thu Dec 20 11:30:25 MST 2007

On AD 2007 December 19 Wednesday 11:19:51 PM -0700, Charles Curley wrote:
> On Wed, Dec 19, 2007 at 10:44:16AM -0700, Nathan Blackham wrote:
> 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.

That sounds awesome.  Do you have the source code online somewhere?  Why
don't we program like this anymore?  I think Alan Kay has some vision
for reducing computing environments back to these wholesome proportions.

The other thing is a recently funded NSF project that will take a couple
of giant steps, we hope, toward reinventing programming. The plan is to
take the entire personal-computing experience from the end user down to
the silicon and make a system from scratch that recapitulates everything
people are used to—desktop publishing, Internet experiences, etc.—in
less than 20,000 lines of code. It would be kind of like a Moore's Law
step in software.  It's going to be quite difficult to do this work in
five years, but it will be exciting.


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