Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software

Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software
By Charles Petzold

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Product Description

What do flashlights, the British invasion, black cats, and seesaws have to do with computers? In CODE, they show us the ingenious ways we manipulate language and invent new means of communicating with each other. And through CODE, we see how this ingenuity and our very human compulsion to communicate have driven the technological innovations of the past two centuries.
Using everyday objects and familiar language systems such as Braille and Morse code, author Charles Petzold weaves an illuminating narrative for anyone who’s ever wondered about the secret inner life of computers and other smart machines.
It’s a cleverly illustrated and eminently comprehensible story—and along the way, you’ll discover you’ve gained a real context for understanding today’s world of PCs, digital media, and the Internet. No matter what your level of technical savvy, CODE will charm you—and perhaps even awaken the technophile within.

Product Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #5080 in Books
  • Brand: imusti
  • Published on: 2000-10-21
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 8.90" h x 1.10" w x 6.00" l, 1.15 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 400 pages


  • Microsoft Press

Editorial Reviews Review
Charles Petzold's latest book, Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software, crosses over into general-interest nonfiction from his usual programming genre. It's a carefully written, carefully researched gem that will appeal to anyone who wants to understand computer technology at its essence. Readers learn about number systems (decimal, octal, binary, and all that) through Petzold's patient (and frequently entertaining) prose and 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 stories of people trying to communicate with (and by means of) mechanical and electrical devices. It's a fascinating progression of technologies, and Petzold presents a clear statement of how they fit together.

The real value of Code is in its explanation of technologies that have been obscured for years behind fancy user interfaces and programming environments, which, 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 Motorola 6800 processors. He walks the reader through the process of performing various operations with each chip, explaining which opcodes poke which values into which registers along the way. Petzold knows that the hidden language of computers exhibits real beauty. In Code, he helps 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.

About the Author

Charles Petzold has been writing about Windows programming for 25 years. A Windows Pioneer Award winner, Petzold is author of the classic Programming Windows, the widely acclaimed Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software, Programming Windows Phone 7, and more than a dozen other books.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful.
5Buy it, love it, share it.
By Mike H.
Seriously, if you are the kind of person who needs to understand where things came from to really understand them, this is a great book. It is truly a book on code, and not just "how to code" or "what to do with code" but "what on earth is code" and where did it come from. It explains computers and computing in more usable terms than more technical books on the same subject because it focuses on history and scope rather than technical depth. For a reader like me, who asked every teacher from elementary school through college "why do we count to 10" and clung to the best answer of "it's arbitrary - it's just how it's always been done" until reading this book (and who struggled to convert binary to base ten), this book was gold. Pure gold.

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful.
5Brilliant concise explanations. A great read regardless of your experience level.
I have over ten years field experience as a programmer, but it wasn't until recently that I read this book and actually understood what I was making the hardware do. This book absolutely demystifies digital logic, RAM and microprocessors. Charles Petzold does a brilliant job explaining how hardware works and how software progressed over the decades. He explains these things with such clarity and astonishingly few words.

The author frequently jumps into very important history of technology and people who pioneered the technology, which is not only interesting, but also gives a great angle on the reasons for the way technology has progressed.

I believe this book should be a fun read for someone with very limited experience with computer software and hardware, and perhaps that this should be required reading for anyone interested in Computer Science or Computer Engineering.

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful.
5fantastic read
By Amazon Customer
I've been programming for about 10 years at this point. I started as a lowly Web Designer fresh out of High School and through a series of jobs, opportunities, necessity, and general interest in computers I've become a full time developer working in a multitude of languages for the past 8 years. Initially I had worked in higher level languages, as I learned more and more about how they worked I drilled down through the various aspects of computers (reverse engineering, understanding assembly, etc.) but I didn't really have a firm grasp on hardware. My learning preference is to start and the basics and work my way up adding layers of knowledge on layers of previous knowledge, it helps me visualize and understand abstracts more easily. I'd started reading some Electrical Engineering books, basic circuits, understanding Voltage, Current, Resistance, Ohms, Capacitors, Circuit Diagrams, etc. But still felt a little fuzzy in a lot of regards of how they'd come together, I'd purchased and played with Arduinos and breadboards, built crude circuits, and use microcontrollers and still felt fuzzy about how it all "really" came together, all the while this book sat on my Kindle (used to have a Kindle format, not sure why it's gone now...) unread as a "some day" goal.

Recently sick of reading EE books and CS related stuff I was looking for a more abstract "lighter" read during my lazy day in the park and decided to read the first few pages of CODE... I wish I had gotten around to it months ago! This book is fantastic, it's entertaining yes, but more importantly it's very clear, concise, and really appeals to my aforementioned learning style. You literally start with the basics in each regard and work your way up through each chapter. This isn't a skim or reference book, it's a cover to cover read and you'll be a better engineer/programmer/technofile for it. I'd recommend everyone even remotely interested in computers and how they work give this book a read, and especially recommend anyone venturing into the CS field to give it a good once over.

I'd give it 10 stars if I could.

See all 366 customer reviews...

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