[FoRK] ridiculous project

Joseph S. Barrera III joe at barrera.org
Sun Jul 7 22:06:00 PDT 2013

I started reading again about the EDSAC and I've been wondering if you 
could possibly fit a BASIC interpreter in 1024 words of 17 (!) bits 
each, and leave room enough for a BASIC program. It would be hard as 
even TinyBasic used 2 or 3 KB. Actually, maybe LISP would make more 
sense? The first step of course is to write an EDSAC emulator. There are 
of course a few but I feel a need to write one in JavaScript so you can 
run all this stuff in any browser.

I actually wrote an Algol 60 interpreter in JavaScript a few years ago 
so that I could run my dad's thesis Algol deck.

In retrospect, the 8080 was a really impressive piece of technology. 
It's fun to imagine how the software world would have evolved if the 
hardware world was stuck at the 8080. For one thing, we would have been 
doing massive parallelism much sooner. MapReduce would be second nature. 
And of course counterfactuals are always tricky, but if in our 8080 
world we were still able to reduce feature size, we could have blocks of 
silicon with thousands of 8080s with networking on the same piece of 
silicon. I guess this is kind of the Transputer vision?

- Joe

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