Machine Code for the Atmos and Oric-1

by Bruce Smith

INTRO. Another machine code book for me to look at - and as you may have gathered from last time, I aint the best guy for the job! But then who else is going to do it? We don’t seem to have anyone out there willing to write in - excluding the few that have.(NB this refers to when the original article appeared in the Rhetoric magazine.) Have all the experts left us ? Anyway, with no-one else willing to waffle on about books, it’s up to me to make the usual hash of things - so here we go.

THE BOOK. It’s green - not many Oric books like that !!! I like green ... Erm, the content is rather like the Sinclair one. It uses BASIC to demonstrate how machine code works and tries to show the way around stacks and accumalators. I reckon people wanting to learn machine code should check out Peter Bragg’s excellent articles in OUM. Rhetoric now have the first 70 available on disk for the PC

WHAT’S IN IT ? Oh right, back to the plot. Yes, there are 15 chapters and 6 appendices with an index. That’s quite a lot of chapters for a book this size. The beginning explains why it is a better way to use assembly, that you have some chance of understanding as opposed to machine code, which is just a load of hex. Then it goes in to the usual explanations of how you can count in differnt ways

Look, there’s binary to decimal conversion, binary to hex conversion, hex to decimal - and I’m off snoring like a trooper ! Maybe this stuff is vital, but it kind of kills enthusiasm going through it every time. Is this the only way ? Well I know it isn’t , because I’ve seen better books and better articles !!! It seems many computer books were written by maths fans though and here Bruce Smith goes through the usual exercise of showing you cures for insomnia.

Numbers are certainly important in any digital system. A computer works via numbers but it also works by what numbers go where. I wish more books would tell you about what is doing what rather than boring ritualistic droll meanderings about how you can count in different ways. I wish books that want to show you how to use machine code would do so and not revert to using BASIC. What is the point of showing you how to use a ‘faster’ way of programming and then showing you how to do it in the slowest possible way ?

So does the book do any good at all? Well I reckon it depends on if you can stay awake long enough. If this book ‘does it’ for you and actually shows you how to program then fine. It didn’t help me but then I probably didn’t give it chance. I am probably being way too harsh though. this does look like the sort of book that could teach you enough about machine code to get you started. The necessary information is there and I would have loved this book if I’d had it at the right time in my life. It’s just so frustrating finding these thigns now, when I haven’t even got time to be doing this article really, and I should be in the workshop up to my arms in saxophones.

Not many people seem to bother with programming nowadays. Not many people even use the Oric, so this sort of book is really one to interest collectors, I guess. You can learn from it if you read the thing. It isn’t very rare but there aren’t too many machine code books available and this is well worth adding to the collection. I’d recommend something like this alongside the Advanced User Guide, Geffers book and Getting More For Your Oric. Rating is about 7/10



back to articles page

Copyright 2000 by S.D.Marshall email me