Mark Armbrust

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Mark Armbrust

cadet1620
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I'm a contract embedded systems / firmware programmer with thirty years in the industry.  It sure has changed over the years!

I recently spent 3 years teaching High School Geometry and Algebra II to gifted middle schoolers.  Alas, the school went bankrupt last year and I'm back to programming; teaching was a lot more fun.

I was looking for some materials for one of my past students who has become interested in computer hardware when I stumbled on TECS.  I wish I'd found it 5 years ago.  I had a couple other students who might have found it useful, too.

I spend evenings last week working up through chapter 6 (it's been 30+ years since I wrote an assembler!).  I'm really impressed at how streamlined and well organized TECS is.

So, why "cadet1620"?  My first PC was an IBM 1620 computer.  2 buddies and I bought it from a Junior College that was upgrading.  It cost us $2000 plus about $500 to get it from La Junta to Boulder (Colorado, USA).  It took up half of a two car garage.  The IBM 1620 did not have any add or multiply hardware; it used lookup tables that had to be hand loaded in its memory.  Thus its nickname "Can't Add Doesn't Even Try".

Oh, and that thing in my avatar -- that's a 1960's pocket calculator!
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Re: Mark Armbrust

runningbio
Thanks for supporting this course.

Great story and great name. It really helps me less frustrated that I can't pick up all this stuff in just two weeks!  In my lifetime there was a no-adding computer that was a humongous mess of hardware!  Wow!

I learned a serious amount by taking this course.  Logic gate, Boolean algebra, RAM/ROM, and Von Neumann architecture are all completely new to me.  That said, I have decided to shift my goals for my two weeks. I completed all the video lectures and previewed the projects.  I completed the first three projects but kept finding myself thinking that the only way I was really coming up with the logic of the gates was using online supports for images, examples.  Then, I was able to really think through my notion of cheating.  I kept wondering if I was cheating.  Then, I found that people publish their .hdl codes and realized that THAT was cheating. Seems like a good thing to put out to my colleagues as we increase our CS offerings.

In order to complete the course projects I would have far exceeded the time I have to complete the work and still don't fully understand the capability of the high-level programming languages.  Without understanding the framework at the bottom of the hardware and software the computer uses to complete tasks, I agree that the high level languages would have much less context.

So to achieve both a view from the top and the bottom I am now moving on to Code.org 20 hour course for programming in Blockly.  

At the end I will be able to share what I've learned with my colleagues and consider how I want to proceed down the line.  I foresee many areas where what I've learned will help me establish more interdisciplinary projects and work with my colleagues in CS and engineering.

Thank you again so much!
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Re: Mark Armbrust

SpaceEagle
In reply to this post by cadet1620
Hi Mark.

Please call me.

Alan McBride.

970-481-0315
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