Something that has been on my digital bucket list for a *very* long time was trying to understand even the fundamental concepts of assembly language. It was just voodoo black magic mystical wisdom stuff to a kid growing up in a low income area of Florida.
I was all about the 64 starting in '82 when I signed up for a computer class (6th grade) that was just loaded with about 20 of them on a state grant. These were amazing to me and up until then, I had never used a computer as they were the domain of 'rich folk'. The teacher was awesome (Mr. Biddle, wherever you are) and I quickly picked up BASIC-although some of the nuance of the pokes and peeks were without context. I had to keep a log of all the ones that did something interesting that I could find.
I don't know how my grandparents could afford it on fixed income, but they managed to put a 64 under the tree for me that year. I'd never had a gift so expensive! This was awesome until, well, the first time I had to turn it off. Poof. There went everything I was learning in a blink. Next up, I had to have a floppy drive. I am sure I petitioned the "to do my homework" or something to that effect. Needless to say, the 64 didn't get a lot of serious action until the next fall when we could finally afford to get a brand new one from the local Service Merchandise store, which was Sears with a magic carpet that your purchases rolled out of their warehouse. 1541 and its ON! Finally I can make the Wizardry Killer I wanted! Sukkit APple ][!
Reality was that BASIC was just too slow to do what I had in my head. The lack of drawing routines in BASIC 2.0 meant my DATA arrays filled with character graphics was quickly tapping out the memory resources. And, it was miserably slow. I didn't know better at the time.
So, how were all these awesome games I was pirating from school mates made? Turns out it was something called ASSEMBLER. I had no clue what this meant. I learned about using a monitor but the cryptic nature of everything flying by made little sense. Unfortunately, library books on the subject were extremely slim and outdated, even by 1983 standards. None of my friends knew what machine language was. I resigned to the fact that this was some other world. Like Europe or something. ASM was like Europe. They actually speak ASM in Europe. I was sure of it. Needless to say, ASM was something I, as a 13 year old kid, would never know. At least that was the perception I had.
Exhausted for resources, I went the BBS route and eventually ran a local BBS called DEFCON5. That sucked a lot of the time and attention away from programming-aside from the BASIC programming needed to customize and update the BBS software I was running.
High School led to skateboarding and chicks and goofing off so a lot of that fell to the background. But I still loved computers and replayed Ultima III and all the other wonderful things there were at that time. Oh, and my buddy said, hey let's ride our bikes out to the nearly derelict 60's era strip mall and see this new computer they're having a demo of! Called the Amiga! It was a traveling marketing event with Commodore swag and a giant bouncing ball in our little run-down pokey town. WOW. But, that is a part two story somewhere down the line...
Sorry for the long monologue. You're probably wondering where all this is going... Long story short, ASM is one of those doors I never figured out how to open when I was a kid. 35 years later, I've got a bit more disposable income and a fairly technical job that keeps me sharp on my toes. I have an opportunity to finally open that door with my rekindled interest in the stuff I had fun with as a kid.
There's some awesome, and I mean AWESOME youtube and content creators out there right now who are kicking ass at making this daunting subject accessible. I may never be the next awesome garage title coder or see my work on the big screen at REVISION 2019, but I damn sure am going to open that door with their help!
Here are some of the folks I am digging that make for great teachers. You should really check them out. Give em a like a sub because I don't think they're getting the recognition they deserve!
First up is Aaron Baugher. His videos (he's making new ones at a very high rate) are deep and long. But he's the first one I've found that really cracks the nut for me when it comes to overcoming the paradigm of high level languages that modern programmers tend to have. He explains some of the very weighty subjects for a noobie to understand. But, the pacing is not overwhelming. I've learned a ton from this content creator in just a short time. For me, it was a Keanu Reeves "Woah. I know kung fu" experience.
Check out Aaron Baugher's 6502 playlist here
Next up is the awesome 8-bit Show and Tell. You may know him as Robin @BedfordLvlExp on twitter
. This channel is great! Lots of awesome, Canadian-folksy personality and a really great teacher. Super easy to follow along and you will learn a lot from his videos! Totally a "Like and Sub" kinda show!
Check out the 8-bit Show and Tell here
Nybbles & Bytes is a brand new show (if you're reading this in 2038, sorry-it was brand new in 2019, I swear!) that provides for a well produced and scripted series. Starting at practically zero knowledge, and working towards a game of some sorts, this content creator is ambitiously approaching youtube and quickly building a large audience. The channel even had Bil Herd's attention, so that a thing.
Nybbles & Bytes can be found on YouTube here
Last but certainly one I am looking forward to the most, is keith s' amazing new series called "Learn 6502 Assembly Programming". This is a totally cross-compile focused learning and development environment implementation. Get this, he has a download-and-go multiplatform (NES,SNES,BBC MICRO, VIC, C64, even a TurboGrafix!!!) cross compile environment a click or two away! Literally select your binary target, click assemble, and poof! It launches in whatever 8 bit machine you have selected. Amazingballs. Not only that, but he approaches things as if you are a complete beginner!
Watch his awesome videos here
He also has a great support site where you can download the dev environment to try for yourself
I do hope you'll go and show these content creators some love. There's a lot more resources out there. These are some of the newest and freshest content being made right NOW on the subject! Its 2018-2019, folks. And, it is an exciting time to be in this hobby!