MOTD: It is amazing how many ways you can make mistakes with 32-bit instructions

Paul Birkel pbirkel at
Sat Oct 22 11:12:45 CDT 2016

Published in the National Computer Conference, 1976.  Full quote:


"He bought an RPC-4000 "at a graveyard-type disposal sale," and later noted,
"My RPC is working but I can't get an assembly program more than two-thirds
loaded. This produces lots of messages telling me my programs are bad" I
suspect some memory aberrations, but the memory print routine won't print
either. So I have been trying to write a simpler routine of my own in
machine language. That is a drag. It is amazing how many ways you can make
mistakes with 32-bit instructions." "


Also memorable:


"An Indiana hobbyist bought a Univac 0 File Computer as scrap, with
arithmetic unit, program-control unit, 90-column reader/punch, sort-collate
unit, tape-drive program controller, and six magnetic-tape units. The new
owner says, "I had figured to use the outside winter air to get it turned on
and see what I've got, and just close down in summer. As to space, not too
bad: only about 400 or 500 square feet, pretty compact. I'm presently having
220 V installed to begin to turn on some of it."


And *we* think that we have it tough :->.





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