If you’re a programmer today, you probably have all the luxury of using mighty softwares that help in developing a certain program. But how did they do all the coding when all of that wasn’t commercially available in 1985?

Coding today is definitely not how it was like back in 1985. The futuristic tools and advancements weren’t there, and all you have is knowledge and… paper. Basically, you’ll imagine and form up an idea on your mind and you need to write it down by hand on a piece of paper.

John Graham-Cumming shared his story back when he was directed to develop a program that will make a machine put labels on bottles. It was a 6502 assembly and there wasn’t an assembler for KIM-1 and it only had a hex keypad and a relatively tiny display.


What does that mean? Yes, he wrote the code by hand and on a paper first. He needed to write the code (which is the blue) then convert it to machine code (in red). During that time, he doesn’t have a calculator that can do hex with him so he did all that computation manually.

Of course, writing code like this is a pain. – JGC

All sorts of great things really come from small beginnings and this is only one of solid proofs for that concept. Today, programmers have the privilege to code easily and some not so trained people can do simple programs on a computer or laptop as well. However, even though they have a better platform, we still have to praise the effort and knowledge they have that resulted in ridiculously awesome technologies we have right now.

This experience taught Mr. Cumming two things which he still practice until now. First, we should always try to get it the first time. The second one, which I believe every programmer should learn, is to run the code in their head so that they can be more proficient in coding and developing programs.

We all enjoy the gadgets and Internet today and it’s such an amazing journey to see how far we’ve come in the past 30 years. Well, I think we should all look back to this day 30 years from now and realize what we are before all of this.

Programming isn’t an easy task. It’s hard, especially if you’re asked to write your code on a paper like our professors do during quizzes and exams. It’s harder to spot the wrong code and syntaxes, but it will teach us to improved our critical thinking and creativity.

[Source: John Graham-Cumming]

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  1. assembly language is still being taught in comp. engineering esp. in computer architecture subjects and microcontrollers. It’s more useful in embedded systems/firmware development not in application development.

  2. I remember back in college we had a project that we had to code in assembly language which was a PITA. Thankfully languages now are more “user friendly”. Kudo’s to the programmers in the past.