Code by Petzold

Yet another book review (I keep busy – even when my post rate drops!)

Code is a book by Charles Petzold, who is well known as an author of C/C++ books for Windows developers. Code is a difficult book to describe. Its very good, and a worthwhile read for anyone serious about being a good developer.

He basically describes how to build a computer from introductory electronics, through binary and boolean logic to simple programming. Also covering morse code and braille on the way through. Sounds pretty heavy going, but actually it flows well (or maybe I’m way too geeky!)

The bits I found most useful were the wiring up of the various logic gates, a concise explanation of binary, octal and Hex (I forget hex much faster than I can learn it). A very good explanation of ASCII (or the ascii’s as he points out). I think I may actually be able to remember now that a byte is 8 bits so 32 bit is 4 bytes. Not life critical for sure, but one day I would like to understand why my broadband connection doesn’t actually give me the 2, 4 or 8 things per thingy its meant to.

The only minor downside of Code is its a few years old now (published around 2000), so some of the comparatives are a bit dated. I wouldn’t call it a big issue. I would recommend the book as good background reading, not essential for most people, but probably useful for a few.

Here is a link to it at my new favourite (UK) computer bookshop:

(My old favourite bookshop has lost a few parcels, has higher prices, and longer delivery for the odd package that finally does arrive) 

 Anyone else read it? any views?



3 Responses to “Code by Petzold”

  1. ross Says:

    I left all that stuff in my a-level computer science classes, cant say i miss it much but i guess it was interesting at a high level. My teacher always claimed that ultimately the only programs to make money would be the ones who could write machine code?

  2. Marcus Says:

    Yes, I’ve got it and have started to read it, but…

    I’ve got several piles of books awaiting reading. One is a compilation of books I want to read for sheer reading pleasure. There’s a few history books in the pile as well as Code.

    Another has technology books for areas I want to know more about or develop future skills in.

    Taking precedence over the other two piles is reading material I need immediately for work purposes. This includes technical and business books. I’m going through a primer on Credit Derivatives at the moment.

    So I’ve gotten about 100 pages into Code and I’m enjoying it (I’m a nerd okay – get over it), I haven’t touched it in a few months as I’m flat out with priority reading.

  3. Simon Says:

    I have a few financial instrument books gathering dust on my shelf. I’m pretty confident I will never look at them, having tried many times. No criticism of the authors, but I’d rather read the phone book. So all credit to you if you can get on with them!

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