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Interesting Old Books

A couple of books that I found interesting when I first started to program are:

Graphical User Interface Programming: Steve Rimmer

- This book discussed creating a GUI under DOS.  It's very extensive and helped me understand GUI concepts and the architecture of the x86 PC (Interrupt handlers, Disk access via bios, Direct Access to Video Memory, Mouse programming, Programming the VGA card... etc... etc...).  It also helped me learn some 80x86 asm and C. 

Hey, I was gonna create my own Windows and become rich!  After all, at the time, Windows was built on DOS.  I think I ended up creating a small Windowed GUI using Turbo C.  It ran in 640x480x16 mode and used the Borland Graphics Interface libraries.

Turbo C++ Users Manual: Borland

- A great manual - also for DOS.  Explains C/C++ and OO concepts very well.

Turbo Pascal Users Manual: Borland

- Another very well written manual that helped me learn how to program. (Also for DOS)


Anyone else have some favorite old books they would care to share?  Yes, I realize old is a relative term. )

Humans Being
Saturday, May 1, 2004

Back in my DOS programming days, I used to have a few of the little "cheat sheet" books (you know the type... about 1/4 the page size of a normal book) with things like all the interrupts in the system. One section for int 10, one for int 13, etc.

They're long gone, so I don't even remember their names. Not even sure I would recongize the titles, although if I had one in hand, I think I'd be able to recognize the book format.

Brad Wilson (
Saturday, May 1, 2004

I still love my copy of Knuth's Art of Computer programming ;) Old, but not obsolete by any means.

Mike Swieton
Saturday, May 1, 2004

"DOS 5 Techniques and Utilities" by Jeffrey Prosise.
"Using Assembly Language" by Allen Wyatt

Mark Hoffman
Saturday, May 1, 2004

Peter Norton's Assembly Language Book for the IBM PC: was one of my favorites back then. It used DOS debug.exe to teach you all about 8086 asm programming. Good foundation for all future programming work.

Peter Norton's PC Problem Solver: another good one that takes you through BIOS interrupts and other low-level stuff. May not be too relevant today however.

Saturday, May 1, 2004

Wasn't that "Problem Solver" book written by Jourdain, not Norton? In any event, it was simply an excellent. I especially liked that for each problem, it gave two solutions: high-level (Basic), and low-level (Assembler). I wish modern books had used this approach more, although today it obviously wouldn't be assembler.

Saturday, May 1, 2004

Mastering Turbo Assembler

DOS Programmer's Reference

Turbo C++ 1.0 manuals

I probably learned more about computers and programming from these three books than any other 10.

Should be working
Sunday, May 2, 2004

One of my favorite *really* old computer books was "Machine Language Disk I/O and Other Mysteries" from WAY back in the early 1980's.

The print quality was poor, the formatting was horrible, the paper was cheap. However, it clearly demonstrated the power of combining an interpretive language (Level II BASIC) with low-level machine code.

This book, more than any other, inspired me to learn Z-80 assembly language.

Keith Moore
Sunday, May 2, 2004

The PC from the Inside Out.
Sargent and Shoemaker

Solid explanation of early PC hardware, would form a good foundation upon which to build an understanding of today's PC hardware.  Might have even been updated for all I know.

Sunday, May 2, 2004

Basic Computer Games and More Basic Computer Games, from the late, lamented Creative Computing magazine. Those books really inspired me when I was a kid.

The code in some of those games is *still* incomprehensible, though. :-)

Chris Tavares
Monday, May 3, 2004

This book was a realy decent read on OS design.

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, May 3, 2004

Here is *the* old book if you ask me,

The Visible Computer: 8088, Assembly Language Teaching System IBM PC, Charles Anderson - Software Masters, 1985

That was a very good book. Brilliantly written. It even included a 8088 simlator to run your programs, because as the author said, buggy assembler programs are not the ultimate when it comes to user friendlyness.

I've been trying to find a copy of it again, but no such luck.

Monday, May 3, 2004

I learned to program from 6502 Softare Design by ? and De Re Atari by Chris Crawford. 

After writing some games, I put programming aside for a few years.  Only later did I learn what a compiler was.   

Corporate Dork
Monday, May 3, 2004

++This book was a realy decent read on OS design. ++

Interesting, What Gordon Letwin is up to nowdays ?

Is he still at Microsoft ?

Monday, May 3, 2004

"Gordon's work at Microsoft afforded him an enviable and comfortable retirement. When he's not vacationing or commuting between his southwestern ranch and his modest Redmond estate, he pursues a long-standing programming interest of his: Home Automation. I understand he's working on automating the home of his buddy, BillGates, in addition to his own. "


Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, May 3, 2004

As strange as it may seem, the book I remember the most was about Clipper 5.

It was from this book that I had my first contact with a few good habits, namely:
- variables - use locals, avoid globals, how a static variable worked
- use of the (Clipper 5) pre-processor
- use of functions
- use of descriptive names for variables/functions
- a function should have a single purpose
- potential advantages of OO-programming - (Clipper 5 wasn't OO, but had a few classes, and the author dedicated some pages talking about how one could take advantage of a hypothetical OO Clipper)

From what I saw of Clipper Summer 87, I consider myself lucky that the first version I used was Clipper 5.

Paulo Caetano
Monday, May 3, 2004

The assembly code listing of the IBM Bios at the back of the IBM PC manual :-)

Code Monkey
Monday, May 3, 2004

I found volume 1 of this: very useful for learning Win32, even years after the data was stale.  Alas, I have lost it.

Keith Wright
Monday, May 3, 2004

Another vote for "Using Assembly Language".

Hmm, seems there is an underlying theme here.  So many of us remember messing with assembly language fondly.

Can the usual suspects please infer something from this please?

i like i
Tuesday, May 4, 2004

Why assembly language?

I think in the 80's you had to write some code in assembler to do anything remotely interesting. It was so much for fun doing tricks with TSRs than memorizing some UseWin32LongFunction(HANDLE hRandomHandleName).

Clipper 5 Programming, yeah that was a good one too. I had more fun with clipper, maybe because it was compiled instead of interpreted.

Tuesday, May 4, 2004

>Basic Computer Games and More Basic Computer Games, from the late, lamented Creative Computing magazine

I actually picked one of these up second hand the other day. I want to set up an old amstrad computer just for old times sake, make it a feature on a low shelf of the bookcase, so I can sit and enter in programs like I used to.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, May 4, 2004

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