Alexander Dickson

Book Review: CODE

Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software

Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software has to be one of the most comprehensive books to learn about how computers work. For someone with an interest in computing, it is a fascinating read and difficult to put down once you’re immersed in its story.

Charle Petzold begins the book with a relatable tale of two children wishing to communicate after bed-time using an agreed upon code using flash lights. This is the first introduction to what a code may be, in this case, the Morse Code. From there, we’re taken on a journey through other codes such as Braille and barcodes. The concept of how it relates to computers (or computers at all) has not been introduced at all by this stage, and the book is better for it.

Eventually, we have to get our hands dirty and learn about relays, and then logic gates, or how we can combine them to make AND, OR, NAND, etc. Then we can begin to understand how a computer can add, subtract and do other mathematical tasks. In the end, we have learned enough information to really know what’s going on behind-the-scenes in your computer.

I really recommend this book to any beginner programmer or any seasoned programmer who needs a brushing up on their fundamental knowledge. For a self-taught programmer like myself, it was invaluable to back-fill the knowledge gaps I had. It’s also a great book to recommend to less computer-literate friends who wish to know more about computing.


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