I have been working on building a development system for my Voltmace Database for the past few month. The assembler is nearly ready to release for beta testing if anyone cares to have a look at it. It shouldn’t really surprise me, but it does, just how fast a program can be assembled these days. Back in the day I would have time to go to the White Lion for lunch while 4k of code was being assembled. Now it’s done in the blink of an eye.
The assembler I had at Voltmace had been made specially for them by some local consultants. It was a Z80-based machine running CP/M with a pair of floppy disc drives. I’m fairly sure they were of the 5¼” variety. Apart from the low speed of the processor back then, things were really hampered by its memory capacity. Even if the system had the full 64k of memory that the Z80 could address, what space the operating system and assembler program left was not big enough to hold a whole assembly file. The result was that the program would load small pieces of it at time from the disc drive to work on. I don’t recall for certain, but I’m pretty sure that it didn’t save a list file either. If you wanted to see what it had produced, it would churn out a listing on a dot matrix printer. So I would start an assembly and leave the disc drives and printer clunking away while I went for a pint and hope there were no errors that would prevent the assembler from completing.