The Importance of Terminology's Quality

John W Kennedy jwkenne at
Mon Aug 18 04:30:35 CEST 2008

Martin Gregorie wrote:
> On Sat, 16 Aug 2008 21:46:18 -0400, John W Kennedy wrote:
>> Martijn Lievaart wrote:
>>> On Thu, 14 Aug 2008 18:33:30 -0400, John W Kennedy wrote:
>>>> Actually, I was thinking of the 1401. But both the 1620 and the 1401
>>>> (without the optional Advanced Programming Feature) share the basic
>>>> omission of any instruction that could do call-and-return without
>>>> hard-coding an adcon with the address of the point to be returned to.
>>>> (The Advanced Programming Feature added a 1401 instruction, Store
>>>> B-address Register, that, executed as the first instruction of a
>>>> subroutine, could store the return-to address.)
>>> Raaaagh!!!!
>>> Don't. Bring. Back. Those. Nightmares. Please.
>>> The 1401 was a decent enough processor for many industrial tasks -- at
>>> that time -- but for general programming it was sheer horror.
>> But the easiest machine language /ever/.
> What? Even easier than ICL 1900 PLAN or MC68000 assembler? That would be 
> difficult to achieve.

I said "machine language" and I meant it. I haven't touched a 1401 since 
1966, and haven't dealt with a 1401 emulator since 1968, but I can 
/still/ write a self-booting program. In 1960, some people still looked 
on assemblers (to say nothing of compilers) as a useless waste of 
resources that could be better applied to end-user applications, and the 
1401 was designed to be programmable in raw machine language. Even shops 
that used assembler nevertheless frequently did bug fixes as 
machine-language patches, rather than take the time to run the assembler 
again. (SPS, the non-macro basic assembler, ran at about 70 lines a 
minute, tops.)

John W. Kennedy
  "The bright critics assembled in this volume will doubtless show, in 
their sophisticated and ingenious new ways, that, just as /Pooh/ is 
suffused with humanism, our humanism itself, at this late date, has 
become full of /Pooh./"
   -- Frederick Crews.  "Postmodern Pooh", Preface

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