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chriso1
656 reviews
3,165 helpful votes
2/11/11
Geeks only and possibly old geeks at that, and a visual feast for anyone who remembers computing in the 1970s and 1980s and ever had to study a CPU at the basic machine language level.

This is the home of a simulation of the 6502 microprocessor in action, lovingly reproduced in multicolor graphics and animated by the power of HTML5 and javascript. Even in 'basic' mode, you can manually step through a short assembler program and watch the processor's various nodes and paths respond, and if you've got a fast enough machine and lots of memory, you can zoom in, pan around and watch the chip processing froma truly up close and personal distance.

At the very least and knowing nothing about what you're seeing, this may appeal to you on an artistic level; there's a certain logical, almost architectural beauty in the patterns formed by the program passing through the transistors on this classic piece of computer history.

If you're up to tackling the Advanced level, you can modify the programming of the 'chip' and play with various parameters to your geek heart's content. There's documentation aplenty and an FAQ that won't help unless you're at least half a geek already, but you might get the drift of the project anyway.

Other chips are also being simulated or in the pipeline as the project attempts to recreate the classic chips of the period from computers and video games. Why? Well, why not?

It will warm the hearts of folks like myself, who were handed these processors on simple boards in our college class and obliged to spend the rest of the hour attempting to get them to add two and six and multiply by five. The answer, as we discovered, could be anywhere from about 12 to 76 depending on how many steps we screwed up along the way, but it was one of those subjects that the teachers felt would stimulate our young minds and encourage us to love computer programming. I can't say it entirely worked for me, but others went on to spend the rest of their adult lives in windowless rooms, slaved to huge machines and living in constant fear of being out-evolved by the next generation of geeks. And it all started with one of these humble little chips. Ahh, the good old days.

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