Shit, blew through a milestone


You know you are an old time computer geek when you notice special numbers.

2^8 is something we geeks all know, it is the number of different bytes there are. 2^8 is 256, and the maximum value of a single byte of computer memory is 255.

2^10 is 1024. I am guessing that most kids today see that number and scratch their head wondering why the old fogeys didn’t just call 1000 bytes a kilobyte.  But us true geeks embrace these.

The next number is 2^16 which is 65,536, and is the maximum number representable as two bytes (256 * 256 for those counting). I am amazed at how often I stumble across this number int he real world.

Then there is the first CPU I learned to program, the Mostek 6502. Designed to be a cheaper version of the motorola 8800, it really drove the home computer revolution in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

Two posts ago, I hit post 256. Makes me smile to mark off these milestones. I suspect I will make it to 1024, but probably not 65,536

(For the curious as to why 8 bits to a byte, and 2 bytes to a word, I encourage a google search into early computer architectures, some details on the early systems, and then try to relate it to your current laptop or tablet, and your eyes will be well and truly opened. Also read “Turing’s Cathedral” for a good narrative on the first electronic digital computer).

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By geoffand


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