BALAD (Beginners Assembly Language and Debugger)

BALAD is an assembly-level programming language for an emulated virtual computer with a 15-bit word length. It is combined with a comprehensive debugging system that allows online program assembly, execution of programs and the insertion of breakpoints to allow suspension of programs during execution.

Instructions are machine-oriented, using integer and logical operations only. As a concession to the beginner, extra input/output instructions are provided for automatic Decimal to Binary conversion and the printing of Text Strings. These facilities will enable students to obtain a reasonable printout of their results quickly while concentrating their efforts on developing algorithms.

The following tells the story of how BALAD was first developed in the ’70s for teaching computer technicians the basic workings of a computer and my recent efforts to re-write BALAD to run on a PC. To complete the story I reach back to my first contact with the English Electric Deuce vacuum tube computer UTECOM in which I was privileged to write my first computer program in 1957. I ported the higher-level language GEORGE, used on UTECOM to BALAD to show how little computer resources are needed for a very useful program.

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