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Well the assembler is just a pretty sugar coating on machine language. Machine language is particular to the architecture of the machine. 6502, for example had exactly three registers (well aside from the program counter) A, X and Y. x86 has been extended a fair bit over the years, and has different modes, the real mode uses a 64k paging design that can be eliminated by later flat (protected) modes. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:X86_operating_modes ) Motorola 68K has a very regular instruction set where you can use almost any register in any use whereas other architectures have specific uses for specific registers. Then there are the RISC processors which I don't think humans really write code for... they're so unfriendly to use they pretty much require machine generation of code.
I totally agree, that should be his next project after SpinRite! I would love to see what approach Steve would take with teaching ASM. I used Assembler to code for Z80's and CPM. It seemed complicated then but looked back over the code and it seems trivial now. Loved selling customers solutions using CPM 8080 machines for a fraction of the cost of PDP-8s.
I'm sure there are plenty of Assembly Language resources. What might be harder to find is a cheat-sheet of sorts that lists optimization methods, the ways to do things more easily that Steve mentioned in response to the "throwdown."
My late step-mother was Ken Olsen's executive assistant for decades!
She used to ask when I was gonna stop playing with the little kids (WANG) and start working with the big boys.
@Dave: My years at DEC were the best years of my working life. The people I worked with were great (I still keep in touch with them 40 years later) and the company culture fostered respect and innovation.
When I worked for Burroughs (Unisys now days) the B1700 small system used cassettes to load the operating system (MCP) and diagnostics. I worked there from 1975-1982 and worked on a lot of stuff that was old even then. Tape drives, disks, card readers, printers, &c many with no chips, all discrete. Mainframes with core memory (B3500) were old back then, but I learned a lot from that old stuff. Interesting to see how computers have evolved. Someone I knew was going to open a business and was interested in technology. I wanted to make him a 'business card' out of an 80 column punch card but couldn't find a key punch to make it. TIme/ technology marches on. I still have a few bits and pieces of machines from them days.