back to article Assembly language, arcade games, and YouTube: The Reg speaks to former Microsoft engineer Dave Plummer

Everyone remembers their first time. It might be Commodore-flavoured, or carry a whiff of Sinclair about it. For former Microsoft engineer Dave Plummer, it was a TRS-80 in a 1979 Radio Shack. Plummer now runs a YouTube channel stuffed full of nerdery, though decades ago he played a role in the rise of Microsoft, contributed to …

  1. 9Rune5

    One fan here

    This is not the first time The Reg has linked to Dave's youtube channel, and over the past couple of months I've become a fan.

    His deep-dives into the sordid world of LEDs is fascinating and I fear I will eventually have to pick up some LEDs myself one day. I am not stupid however, and I realize I will probably end up electrocuting myself, but I will hopefully have some fun before I get to that point.

    There are various gold nuggets to find as well. Even something mundane as Windows' format drive dialog becomes interesting when Dave covers it and explains why (oh why!) the thing is limited to 32GB when faced with FAT32.

    The outro to each video ("this chair is for someone who likes to rock") doesn't fully make sense to me though, but makes me smile nonetheless.

    Well worth a visit.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: One fan here

      I fear I will eventually have to pick up some LEDs myself one day

      maybe an RPi a starter kit?

      Or Arduino if you prefer that.

    2. Steve Todd

      Re: One fan here

      Hmm, must be a different channel from the embedded Tempest video. He hasn’t posted anything there for 2 years and has only 108 subscribers.

      1. 9Rune5

        Re: One fan here


        Look for "Dave's garage" (

  2. Gene Cash Silver badge

    I got a TRS-80 Model I Level I for Christmas in 1979. I remember upgrading it to Level II BASIC and 16K was something on the order of $250. My mother was an IBM 370 coder and she was not convinced I needed that huge amount of memory!!

    I went to Atari computer camp in Asheville, NC, where I met Dr. Alan Kay, and since I knew how to code 6502 with the Assembly Cartridge, he offered me an internship when I graduated from high school. I graduated in late '83. Oops. Oh well. I went on to wrangle dual-CPU CompuPro S-100 boxes running networked with Arcnet for my 1st job.

    I just Googled it and apparently my parents somehow paid an ungodly sum for me to attend that. This was held at the Asheville School. Asheville is a beautiful place, and I went back for several of the Honda Hoots held there.

    One of the guys at camp with me was Italian and came over on the Concorde. One night the school cafeteria offered spaghetti and he was really looking forward to it. I warned him that 1) it was American "Italian" food and 2) it was school cafeteria food. I still remember the look on his face at first forkful... which he immediately spit out.

  3. Blackjack Silver badge

    Is all BASIC to me

    Never had a C64, the first computer I used was a 286, orange screen, no hard disk, just flat floppies. The first computer I owed was a Compaq with Windows 95 that came with a dozen CDs of software and games. The thing lasted me 16 years, rest in peace old friend.

    1. davepl

      Re: Is all BASIC to me

      I have an Amber VT220 in my office today... you just don't see enough amber CRTs :-)

  4. Dave 126 Silver badge

    XP MCE

    I had such a computer, came with a MCE remote. The MC was an IR-blaster driven UI that was fairly civilised, geared towards viewing photos, movies and music.

    That said, I didn't have too much use the it since i didn't have it connected to a big TV, so mouse and keyboard were generally better.

    The UI lived on into at least Vista, since I had a laptop with an IR port.

    I think MS wanted Media Centre to be a bigger thing, since there were attempts to get PMP vendors on board - the idea being your media player physically docks into your desktop computer. I guess the time period was the last days of computers never being quite fast enough, LCD screens not being cheap or good enough, and so there was still a big market for desktops.

    1. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: XP MCE

      I had a Media Center XP Laptop until it finally died last year, I mostly used it for games.

  5. WhereAmI?

    A TRS-80 belonging to a friend was the first machine I ever played a game on.... Colossal Cave!!! 'Advent' I think it was called. Had to wait for the PC port before I finally finished it some two decades later.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I remember Pinball on that.

      It was possible for the ball to get stuck in an infinite loop between two obstacles.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Learning over the years........

    Quote: "A few years later, I was introduced to assembly language programming....."


    1982: Yup.....CP/M-80 and Intel 8080....assembler and Lance Leventhal's great book on the 8080....then Leor Zolman's BDS C........fantastic learning experiences.


    Not much to report till 1999.......


    1999: Yup.....Red Hat 5.1, Python 1.5, Flagship, gcc......pity about the sixteen years learning nothing during a drought dominated by something from Redmond, WA, USA.......


    2021: Yup.....Fedora33, Python 3.x, Harbour 3.2, gcc....still learning (without ANY help from Redmond, WA or from Cupertino, CA)..........

  7. Ashto5


    Only thing I ever pestered my parents for

    Dad hated me hogging the tv

    But it helped me to a 30+ year career in software

    Back then you had to prove yourself with logic tests, a degree was something other people did

    You can’t take a c..p now without a degree

    Rose tinted glass are great

  8. W@ldo

    I was an 8080/z80 programmer in the early 80s. When the transition to IBM PCs started most of us vomited at the sight of x86 assembly language. We were all ready for a transition to the Motorola 68k, or the planned Zilog 80000 processor. Both had direct/natural memory addressing and not the segment/offset memory addressing for the x86. I switched to C, then in the early 2000s started back on the Intel processors as they got sanity back with direct memory addressing. What's funny is the learning curve to get back into Intel processors was so easy as many of the opcodes were still the same as the 8080.

    I think there was a lost decade or two in computer evolution due to the early x86 architecture. Yes, we made it to a much better place, but without this pain we could have been much further along. I still shake my head at all the computer lock ups due to memory management issues of the day. When Windows 3.0 emerge, all were pleased to only have to reboot ~3 times a day. Basing progress on the number of reboots per day was absurd!

  9. Trigun

    My formative years were spent programming on a BBC Micro B+ uisng BASIC and 6502 assembly and then moved on the the Amiga 500. These days I design and build my own single board 6502 based computers as a hobby.

  10. ricardian

    For me it was an inspired technical boss in the mid 1980s who bought two of us a Commodore Pet plus Raeto West's invaluable book. We soon moved on to 6502 assembler with a PDMA16 (later a PDMA32) for data input via the user port DMA; what was very handy was that the IEEE488 routines were hard-coded into ROM so controlling devices (like printers) was easy.

  11. Lunatic Moonshiner

    Having enjoyed Pascal in school, he "rediscovered much of the same 'elegance and cleanliness' in C#."

    Behind Turbo Pascal and C# is a Danish software engineer Anders Hejlsberg.

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