Classic Computers vs. Classic Computing

From: Jim Battle <>
Date: Fri Sep 14 01:43:49 2001

At 11:37 PM 9/13/01 +0100, Tony Duell wrote:
> > > That much is also true. As I've said a few times before, I am an
> > > electronics hacker primarily. My interest in computers is to consider
> > > them as (fairly) complex electronic circuits to be investigated, hacked,
> > > modified, repaired, etc. This is (I know) somewhat unconventional,
> but....
> >
> > No so unconventional... I started with hardware (hacking the family TV,
> > stereo, and phones)...
>I suspect that a lot of people started with hardware, but not that many
>stuck with it :-). And even fewer think of computers primarily in
>hardware terms.
> > > Since you can't (usefully) take a soldering iron to an emulator, it
> > > explains why I am not interested in them.

I can understand the "hands-on" aspect, but here's another viewpoint.

I'm an EE by degree and trade, programmer by hobby. Let me tell you, I
thought I understood pretty well how the Sol worked, but in the process of
writing an accurate emulator, I really learned how things work to a much
greater degree than I had before.

For some features I've spent hours analyzing schematics and writing test
programs to stimulate certain conditions to see how the Sol really behaves
so that I can try and duplicate it in the emulator.

In the distant future I hope to write an emulator for the Wang 2200, the
machine I learned to program on. I'm sure I'll have some fleeting kicks
writing a few small programs for the machine, but what I'm really looking
forward to is learning how the machine actually worked at a deep level.

Stated another way, when I'm looking at a schematic, there are times when I
can understand completely what the circuit does. There are other times
when I get the general drift of it and just go on to other parts. However,
if you are writing an emulator, you can't just gloss over the details. At
some point you need to write a piece of code that says: "under these
conditions, do these specific things".

So I can't literally take a soldering iron to the emulator, but many of the
same skills of reverse engineering and analysis that you certainly enjoy
are also required to write an emulator.

Jim Battle ==
Received on Fri Sep 14 2001 - 01:43:49 BST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Oct 10 2014 - 23:34:25 BST