The Joy of Hex


Why I'm So Happy When I Program

Jim Neil

Ever since I programmed my first computer in the late '60's, I've been intoxicated with the total control and the pure logic of it all. I took my first programming class (CPS-101, Introduction to FORTRAN) by accident. I needed a three credit course to maintain my full time student status and it just happened to fit my schedule, and it sounded interesting. I had purchased and read the text before the class began and had written a couple of small programs. I sought out the instructor (whose surname happened to be Gates, no relation) to help me gain access to the machine, a huge CDC 3600, so I could run them.

I had painstakingly written each line of code by hand, careful to make it look as real as possible. That wasn't enough for me, so I got out the old typewriter and typed the programs in an attempt to make them look as close to the examples in the book as I could. When I showed them to the instructor, he couldn't believe his eyes! He must have thought I was crazy.

He patiently explained to me about punch cards and the need for a PNC (Problem Number Card) to authorize each run on the Michigan State University mainframe. I didn't want to hear any of that! All I wanted to do was run my programs and see if I understood how to control this monster computing machine. After an hour or so of pleading, he caved-in and gave me the required authorization, showed me where the IBM-026 keypunch machines were, and cut me loose.

The next several days were spent in something that felt like a drug induced euphoria as I made run after run in my endeavor to be victorious over the machine. Each run took at least a day and sometimes two or three depending on the system load. It didn't matter, I spent the waiting hours studying my listings, making improvements and devising even larger challenges for the computer and me to solve.

By the time the term started, I had those programs working and was working on others. I was hooked. My programs increased in complexity and I just couldn't get enough. Mr. Gates and I would talk after class and he would give me advanced information because he knew I was well beyond the level of the class. Toward the end of the term, he told me I was a natural and persuaded me to change my major to computer science, which I did, and computers have been a big part of my life ever since.

As the years went by, the joy I once found in programming began to dwindle. I thought I was getting burned-out, but my interest in computers was still there, I just didn't enjoy coding anymore. I did some soul searching and discovered the major slide in the satisfaction I derived from writing assembly code started around the time I began using the 8086. I found it disorienting and foreign to my previous experience. The combination of this revelation coupled with the anticipation of a huge assembly project I was facing was the catalyst that sparked the birth of TERSE.

TERSE Makes Programming FUN

I'll never forget the day I finished the compiler. I had fired several hundred trivial examples through it for debugging purposes but the time had come to actually write a whole program in my pristine language. I can't even recall exactly what the program was, that doesn't matter. What I do recall is the feeling of total exhilaration I experienced as I sat with my fingers poised on the keyboard and began typing. I literally got chills up and down my spine as I keyed the operators and operands. I was no longer burdened with mnemonics and the assembler's antiquated syntax. I had been liberated. It was the same feeling I got when I was sailing. It was like I was getting something for nothing, like I was somehow cheating the system.

As I sat there alone at my desk typing I began laughing out loud! It was too cool. It was too simple. It was too much FUN! The joy was back! I had recaptured the original feeling I'd experienced some seventeen years before. Now, more than ten years later, I still find it difficult to contain myself when I program in TERSE. I'm sure you too will enjoy the joy, freedom and control only TERSE can offer the x86 machine-level programmer. Why not order your Risk FREE copy of TERSE today? In a few days you too could be laughing out loud!

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Copyright © Jim Neil. All Rights Reserved.
The word OPTOMIZED, the name TERSE, and the TERSE logo are Trademarks of Jim Neil.