Dan Geiger has created a new learning platform which has been specifically designed to teach you how a computer works at the most fundamental level, and even allows you to program in machine language to expand your knowledge even further.
The 4-bit Microprocessor Computer trainer designed by Dan based in Orlando Florida, comes complete with a curriculum to guide you through learning about the fundamentals of computing. More of which can be seen in the promotional and demonstration video below.
Dan explains a little more about the inspiration and design of the microprocessor computer he has created as an educational tool for learning more about computers and their construction.
You might ask yourself why you would want to step back in time and program a computer in machine language. There are a lot of good reasons. First, believe it or not, today’s computers reflect a lot of the paradigms created early in computer science. Computers still operate by manipulating data as 1’s and 0’s in memory.
By having to program every step of manipulation of data in a simple computer, you will gain a better understanding of what is happening when you program using higher level languages like C++ and Java. Next, programming a simple computer helps to form your thinking more along the lines of how the computer processes data.
This will help you become better at logical problems and again, give you a better comprehension of complex commands in higher languages. There is also a nostalgic element to programming a simple computer. Like learning how to navigate by using the night sky, you will be connected to a history that has had profound impacts on the social, economic, and physical world. Lastly, it is just plain fun! Entering these commands into memory and watching the computer step through them to run its calculations and display the results is very satisfying.You will find yourself quickly experimenting with the sample programs and making them your own.
Above you see the computer running a simple program. FUNC 0 runs the current program in memory. This program looks at the key board and reports if the key pressed is an even or odd number. RSET stops the program and returns to the programming mode.
The computer has 31 instructions and 240 words of program memory (a word is a 4-bit memory location). There are also 16 words of user memory for data input and manipulation. There are 2 banks of permanent memory to save two different programs that remain even if power is shut off. This allows you to keep the current program you are working on or save a particularly large program you don’t want to have to reenter.
For more information on the new 4-bit Microprocessor Computer jump over to the Kickstarter website for details by following the link below.
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