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From the Author
Charles Petzold explains why he added chapters, reordered content, incorporated new examples, and updated descriptions in his best-selling book Code, 2nd Edition, on CharlesPetzold.com.
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The classic guide to how computers work, updated with new chapters and interactive graphics
"For me, Code was a revelation. It was the first book about programming that spoke to me. It started with a story, and it built up, layer by layer, analogy by analogy, until I understood not just the Code, but the System. Code is a book that is as much about Systems Thinking and abstractions as it is about code and programming. Code teaches us how many unseen layers there are between the computer systems that we as users look at every day and the magical silicon rocks that we infused with lightning and taught to think."
- Scott Hanselman, Partner Program Director, Microsoft, and host of Hanselminutes
Computers are everywhere, most obviously in our laptops and smartphones, but also our cars, televisions, microwave ovens, alarm clocks, robot vacuum cleaners, and other smart appliances. Have you ever wondered what goes on inside these devices to make our lives easier but occasionally more infuriating?
For more than 20 years, readers have delighted in Charles Petzold's illuminating story of the secret inner life of computers, and now he has revised it for this new age of computing. Cleverly illustrated and easy to understand, this is the book that cracks the mystery. You'll discover what flashlights, black cats, seesaws, and the ride of Paul Revere can teach you about computing, and how human ingenuity and our compulsion to communicate have shaped every electronic device we use.
This new expanded edition explores more deeply the bit-by-bit and gate-by-gate construction of the heart of every smart device, the central processing unit that combines the simplest of basic operations to perform the most complex of feats. Petzold's companion website, CodeHiddenLanguage.com, uses animated graphics of key circuits in the book to make computers even easier to comprehend.
In addition to substantially revised and updated content, new chapters include:
From the simple ticking of clocks to the worldwide hum of the internet, Code reveals the essence of the digital revolution.
Download the sample pages (includes Chapters 6 and 11)
Preface to the Second Edition
Chapter One: Best Friends
Chapter Two: Codes and Combinations
Chapter Three: Braille and Binary Codes
Chapter Four: Anatomy of a Flashlight
Chapter Five: Communicating Around Corners
Chapter Six: Logic with Switches
Chapter Seven: Telegraphs and Relays
Chapter Eight: Relays and Gates
Chapter Nine: Our Ten Digits
Chapter Ten: Alternative 10s
Chapter Eleven: Bit by Bit by Bit
Chapter Twelve: Bytes and Hexadecimal
Chapter Thirteen: From ASCII to Unicode
Chapter Fourteen: Adding with Logic Gates
Chapter Fifteen: Is This for Real?
Chapter Sixteen: But What About Subtraction?
Chapter Seventeen: Feedback and Flip-Flops
Chapter Eighteen: Let's Build a Clock!
Chapter Nineteen: An Assemblage of Memory
Chapter Twenty: Automating Arithmetic
Chapter Twenty-One: The Arithmetic Logic Unit
Chapter Twenty-Two: Registers and Busses
Chapter Twenty-Three: CPU Control Signals
Chapter Twenty-Four: Loops, Jumps, and Calls
Chapter Twenty-Five: Peripherals
Chapter Twenty-Six: The Operating System
Chapter Twenty-Seven: Coding
Chapter Twenty-Eight: The World Brain
We've made every effort to ensure the accuracy of this book and its companion content. Any errors that have been confirmed since this book was published can be downloaded below.
Download the errata (1.7 MB .doc)
Download replacement figures:
Chapter 8, Figure 52 (2 KB .svg)
Chapter 11, Figure 5 (125 KB .svg)
Chapter 11, Figure 6 (152 KB .svg)
Chapter 11, Figure 7 (156 KB .svg)
Chapter 11, Figure 19 (116 KB .svg)
Chapter 23, Figure 15 (83 KB .svg)