11.05.2004

We were not observing the proper formalities when using the computer system, as demonstrated properly here.
Blinking Little Lights
Tonight was pretty interesting for me and muller, as I fired up my PDP-8/m for the first time. It was given to me in 2001 by my friend Mike Fox, who is also a friend of the family. I never had the chance to use it, but muller has been badgering me to let him use it to aid his conquest of machine code (assembly). I figured what the hell, and before I knew it we were ready to finally turn the old girl on.

The fan inside it must be massive! As it roared to life, I could have sworn it was preparing to take off. My dad had to troubleshoot it for a little bit, but as it turns out we only needed to start it up with all of the toggle switches off. Taped on top of the box was a short test program called a "worm". It was written out in octal (base-8), which is even more low-level than assembly. Robert entered the program in binary (base-2). This took a while because he would have to set the memory address, flip in the instruction set, and then deposit the instructions into the memory address before moving on to the next instruction.

It didn't quite work at first, but after we fiddled with it some more and switched the dial to display the accumulator, there it was! A worm travelling across the readout. It may not sound very exciting, but seeing that was a real accomplishment. Robert later modified the code to create a "christmas lights" effect, and I changed it to look sort of like a marquee.

Tonight I've really gotten to understand the inner concept of a computer. Hopefully I can learn some Assembly along with robert and we can experiment some more on my newly operational system.

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