80-Bus News


January–February 1983, Volume 2, Issue 1

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Book Reviews

by R. O’Farrell

With the permission of the Editor, I would like to apologise to the enraged readers of the 80-Bus News for the absence of any book reviews in 80-Bus No. 3. This was due in part to other demands on my time (my surgeon won’t allow me bring my Computer into hospital with me – I think it makes him feel insecure) and also to the fact that I found very few books worth buying and reading. It is not generally known, but most, if not all, of the reviews published in 80-Bus News are based on items purchased by the reviewer using real money. The idea that we sit around all day unwrapping parcels of items sent to us free, gratis, and for nothing for review is a gross misconception in general. If some kind manufacturer wishes to send me a dual floppy disk set up for review and extended test, I will be happy to facilitate him, as my car is currently running around on my dual floppy disk funds, they having been requisitioned to rebuild its automatic transmission. Did you know that early models of the Volvo 343 suffer from a design fault in the bobweights, resulting in catastrophic failure of the transmision every 10 – 20 thousand miles? I found this out the hard way! I’m glad to say that, having spared no expense, the transmission is now rebuilt, using the new improved parts, and should be good for many hundreds of thousands of miles. Anyone like to buy a slightly used Volvo 343?…

Enough of the bulletin from the battlefront. Bring on the books! As I said, of recent months there has been little published that interested me. This may be due in part to the fact that Dublin is very nearly a computer desert. One book I found was:

Microcomputer Technology by Prof. Julian R Ullman,
published by Pitman at about £5

This book is an introductory survey to microcomputers and their use. Its specific chip is the Z80, and it deals with the programming of the Z80, the types of data structures one meets in computing, the use of high level languages, and a fair whack of logic design. The most interesting section is the last chapter, where he uses Pascal to show how a Z80 assembler might be written.

Microcomputer-based Design by J.B.Peatman,
published by McGraw Hill (student edition about £7.50)

This is in many ways a similar book to the foregoing. Published in 1977, its emphasis is a little oriented towards the 8080 and other older machines. Nevertheless, it does have appendices on the Z80 and 6809. It also gives a fairly good overview of the problems of interfacing from chip to chip, and suggested circuits for voltage level shifting.

An Introduction to Database Systems by C.J.Date,
published Addison Wesley

Is a substantial work reviewing the differing techniques used in data base programming. I’ve read it once, and have put it aside for a rest before reading it again, to give its contents time to be assimilated. I’m interested in the problems of data base management as I intend to write a simple Database Management System for a particular application.

The Art Of Computer Programming
Vol 1: Fundamental Algorithms
Vol 2: Seminumerical Algorithms
Vol 3: Searching and Sorting
by D. Knuth, published Addison Wesley

These books form the Bible of computer studies. There is a rule – “If it’s in Knuth then its right”. They are not light reading. Usually about 20 minutes is all you can take, and the rest of the day is spent assimilating what you have

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