Sunday, January 1, 2012


Early in December I tweeted on a great little board that ran the FORTH language called FIGnition.  It entranced me for two reasons, first it reminded me how much I missed the computer language, FORTH and second it reminded me of the days of building your own machine to experiment with softwaare (and hardware concepts).

FORTH is a great language, having both high level and low level aspects, it still is used in some boot loaders.  One of its unique aspects was that it used RPN, Reverse Polish Notation - think old school HP calculators.  RPN is postfix, to add two numbers one would enter " 3 <enter> 4 +", the <enter> was a real key that would push the first number on the stack.  This inspired a popular (for geeks at least) bumper sticker of the era, "FORTH love if honk then" that you can still purchase here.  It was low level in that it defined an entire very simple OS with primitive file management that made it very popular with microcomputer hobbyists. 

My recommendation for the best page to begin discovering FORTH is the homepage of a defunct organization, the FORTH INTEREST GROUP, aka FIG.  I was once a member of FIG and still miss FORTH, that is why I will probably reacquaint myself with it by building a single board computer that runs it, the FIGNITION.   It is under $35 dollars when delivered form the UK.  Note it is a kit and you should have the hang of soldering, but at the end you can claim you built your own computer with far fewer connections than my original ALTAIR.  I will keep you posted on my progress on my twitter account, SWUniverse.

Hopefully I am back in the blogging swing of things.  Have a bunch of great blogs from my students that I would like to post.  Happy 2012!  Later!