Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Partly curiousity, also I think there's a lot of nostalgia.

Back when I got started with computers it was 1982, and the available programming languages were BASIC and Z80 assembly language. A lot of people growing up around that time did assembly language coding, because they needed the speed, or because (like me) they wanted to hack games for either infinite lives, or to ease copying.

Of course assembly language is still used in some areas, it used to be necessary for optimization a lot more than today due to evolving general purpose hardware. But it is still useful for embedded and microcontroller programming.

I don't often touch assembly these days because I have a need for it, but do it for fun because it reminds me of simpler times and fewer abstractions. e.g. a recent project:

https://github.com/skx/math-compiler

(Of course these days with microcode, and complex processors, it's not really bare-metal anymore. Not like it used to be. But try telling kids today that, and they won't believe you !)






> Partly curiousity, also I think there's a lot of nostalgia.

I think it's deeper than that. I started coding professionally just before the internet took off. Before that I didn't have much interest in computer networks and seemingly overnight I was dealing with a huge new vocabulary of unfamiliar terminology like "port", "peer", "client/server", "protocol", "router", "bridge", "firewall". This wasn't just academic arcana either: whenever I had a problem, the network types would start asking me to check to see if the "firewall" was blocking my "client" from accessing the "port". I found myself able to muddle through by following their instructions, but I felt like a foreigner in a foreign land whenever anything didn't work the way it was "supposed to".

Web programming documentation wasn't helpful in navigating this territory; it assumed you either knew all this stuff of somebody else was taking care of it for you. One day I decided to start from "the beginning" and read TCP/IP illustrated and within a few chapters it all came together and I found myself able to troubleshoot problems that sometimes even the networking "experts" couldn't resolve.

Learning and understanding assembler is like that: once you understand EXACTLY how a computer works, there's no mystery in whether you coded it wrong or you didn't understand what to expect.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: