Subject: Re: Universal iconic language -
From: (Rob Warnock)
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2004 05:55:26 -0500
Newsgroups: alt.folklore.computers,,comp.lang.scheme,talk.bizarre,comp.programming
Message-ID: <>
Scott Dorsey <> wrote:
| Well, that is traditional already.  A lot of machines used to use the
| ascii (or local display code) value for A as the top byte for the add
| instruction, the code for S as subtract, and so forth.  Of course,
| that was in the days when human beings would often have to read or
| write machine code, even if only to decipher coredumps.

The venerable LGP-30 (circa 1959) was such a machine: four bits of the
Flexowriter character code for the instruction mnemonics *were* the
instruction codes. Bootstrap instructions were typed in with a console
switch set to read only four bits of each six-bit character, thus
one typed instructions (with hex addresses) directly into the machine,
without needing an assembler. IIRC, the 16 codes were as follows
["Z" = "Stop" isn't exactly mnemonic, but easy enough to remember]:

  code char
    0	Z	Stop [conditional on console switches & track addr]
    1	B	Bring [load]
    2	Y	Yank(?) [store AC<addr_field> ==> mem<addr_field>]
    3	R	Return address store [nextPC + 1 ==> mem<addr_field>]

    4	I	Input [shift one 4-/6-bit char from KBD/tape into AC]
    5	D	Divide
    6	N	Multiply [saves lower half of result, usually an integer]
    7	M	Multiply [saves upper half of result, usually a fraction]

    8	P	Print [shift one char out of AC to typewriter/tape]
    9	E	Extract [logical-AND memory to AC]
    f	U	Unconditional branch
    g	T	Test and branch if AC negative

    j	H	Hold [store AC, leaving AC unchanged]
    k	C	Clear [store & clear accumulator (AC)]
    q	A	Add [memory to AC]
    w	S	Subtract

Note: The LGP-30 used hex digits, but *not* the ASCII-based hex we all
know today, 0123456789abcdef, since it used Flexowriter code, not ASCII.
Instead, it used 0123456789fgjkqw. (Really.)

Also, since the address field was not right-justified in the instruction,
addresses as typed appeared to be incremented by 4, e.g., the first few
locations in the machine were 0, 4, 8, j, 10, 14, 18, 1j [pronounced
"J-teen"], 20, 24, 28, 2j ["Twenty-J"], etc.

Note#2: The "R" instruction stores the address of the *second* following
instruction ("PC+1" or ".+2") into the target, since the subroutine calling
sequence took two instructions and *modified* the routine being called, e.g.:

	u1230  -------> 1230:	...	; first instr of subr...
	...   <---\     1234:	...
		   \    1238:	...
		    \-- 123j:	u0000	; return (addr overwritten by "r123j")


p.s. Other than the state on the drum (PC, IR, AC), there were
only 15 bits of state (15 flip-flops) in the entire LGP-30 CPU
[plus 6 inverters, 6 non-inverting buffers ("cathode followers"),
and a whole *mess* of passive diode logic (cascaded ANDs and ORs)].
The entire "this state/next state" Boolean equation for the machine
is given in less than six pages of the maintenance manual (typed,
with some symbols hand-drawn).

Rob Warnock			<>
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