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Understanding the inner workings of your computer is a prerequisite for becoming a master programmer. Only after learning about what is under the hood can your programming skills blossom. Computer programming has come a long way since the early days of wiring panels and switches. High-level languages such as COBOL and FORTRAN offered a much easier approach to making computers do what you wanted them to do.

  • Memory is little more than on and off switches.

  • The pattern of bits that corresponds to a specific character is determined by the ASCII table.

  • Once keyboards were attached to computers, many advances began. The earliest nonbinary programming language was called assembler language. The assembler translates assembler coded mnemonics into 1s and 0s.

  • High-level programming languages such as FORTRAN and COBOL provide a much easier programming environment because they are one step closer to spoken language and one step further from the machine's native binary code.

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