CloseToTheMachine

A delightful note arrived the other day (from "PG"):

I recently came across Creative Computing for January 1982, which includes your Bignum article. I first tried it on a TRS 80 model 1 and wrote a few canned Bignum programs stored on cassette! Around 1990 I did it on Hypercard, using strings instead of arrays. In the 90's I did it on QBasic for DOS, and then Power Basic for DOS, and finally Visual Basic. It fascinated me to be able to calculate pi to 100,000 places in a home-brewed program. Of course, what takes Visual Basic hours, can be done in Mathematica in seconds.

BIGNUM was simple and fun to write; I remember, ca. 1979, sitting with Volume II of Donald Knuth's Art of Computer Programming open on my lap, as I pecked away on the little square keys of the 8k Commodore PET computer and implemented the classical algorithms for multiple-precision arithmetic in the BASIC programming language.

As I commented in my reply to PG (slightly edited):

I'm glad that there's somebody (besides me) who likes the do-it-yourself aspect of knowing, at least at a certain level of abstraction, exactly what the code is doing --- rather than trusting a mysterious black-box oracle to unveil an answer via unspecified magic (^_^) ... I drive a stick shift and use a fountain pen too ...

It's like being aware of the physics (underneath the chemistry (underneath the materials (underneath the technology))) that makes possible the gadgets people use every day ... or, likewise, developing an appreciation of the science of biological systems ...

(see KnowHowAndFearNot (19 Nov 1999), PetBibli1 (23 May 2000), TechnicalMinded (18 Jul 2003), ... )


TopicProgramming - TopicPersonalHistory - Datetag20040506


(correlates: PrecisionLiving, BluffingVersusHumility, OnAesthetics, ...)