Are Lower Level Languages Better?

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I dropped a link to the post on my programming history on Facebook and got an interesting comment from one of my lifelong buddies – none other than Digger Waggle:

 I learned 6502 assembly when I was around 14 . Never really learned C or C++ or any of the higher level scripting languages(though I know how to read them like I can read a French or Spanish label on the back of the shampoo bottle.) I’m still of the strange mindset that the only way to really program is ASM.

I’ve often thought about the subject of this post, and Digger’s comment just brought it to the forefront of my mind.. Are Lower Level Languages Better?

My definitive answer is: Um, it depends? But more often than not, the higher level language will win out.

“Why”, you ask? Let’s start out with an abbreviated and paraphrased computer history lesson… On second thought, check out this article and then come on back for my explanation. I’ll wait here.

Ok – back? Did you get all that? Good. Read on…

PDP-1

PDP-1

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A Look At My Programming History – Part 1

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I’m an old man – I’ve just broken through the 40 year barrier – and I’ve been coding a long time. By my guesstimation, about 30 years or so – starting with a Basic cartridge on my IBM PCjr.

IBM PCjr

IBM PCjr

It was my first real machine, and my mom paid a king’s ransom for it at the time. It was very upsetting to her when I took it all apart to explore the guts (I’ve always been a take-it-apart kinda guy. I could take apart anything. Remember real metal indestructible Tonka trucks – yeah, I took them apart, too). Luckily, I got it all back together and working to avoid Armageddon, but I digress.

Back to Basic programming on that behemoth… I knew nothing about programming back then, but I was always curious as to how this machine did things. Being the inquisitive person that I am – I researched. There were no interwebs back then, no Google, no BBSs – I had no other recourse but to RTFM that came in the box – which was good enough to get me going. The light went on, and I had the perfect project in mind to practice my new skills!

AD&D

AD&D

Some background on my selected project. I, like most 10 yr old boys at the time, really dug AD&D. You know – the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game series (my mom loathed it, but that’s another story in its own right). AD&D was great fun, the only problem was that you really couldn’t play it alone – you needed a player and a Dungeon Master, at the very least. Not only that, you kinda needed a dungeon or something similar in which to adventure. The gathering of folks to play, as you can imagine, wasn’t always easy. But I was in luck! The Dungeon Master’s Guide had in its appendix a series of random dungeon generation tables! Awesome stuff! You roll a D20 die and based on the result you could get the room size, layout, creatures, treasures, etc.

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