Making your own CPU with a micro:bit #microbit #MakeCode @MakeCode

blogmywiki demonstrates using a BBC micro:bit as a simple 5-bit programmable computer.

Very early (and relatively inexpensive) home computers in the 1970s, like the Kim-1 or the Science of Cambridge MK-14, were not even like the home computers of the 1980s. These were single-board computers, uncased like a Raspberry Pi is today but they didn’t, initially at least, hook up to your TV, nor did they have a typewriter keyboard. They just had hexadecimal calculator-like number keypads and simple LED displays of the kind you also found on the calculators of the day.

You didn’t program them in a high-level, easy-to-read language like BASIC or Python, either. You programmed them in assembly language: short very simple commands (usually in the form of 3-letter ‘mnemonics’) that each had their own hexadecimal number value that you entered using the keypad. This was very hard, slow and required a lot of planning and patience, but it meant that you were writing code that ran very quickly indeed on the ‘bare metal’ of the CPU (central processing unit). BASIC programs running on the same processors like the 6502 ran much more slowly, because your English-like BASIC commands had to be translated into something the processor could understand (machine code) every time it ran.

The code to turn the micro:bit into a CPU is written in Microsoft MakeCode.

MakeCode function to convert binary to base 10

See more in the video below and on Suppertime.co.uk.


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