This all seems so simple if you gloss over the underlying mechanisms, but it becomes a lot more convoluted as you delve deeper into the morass.
One of our younger community members - we'll call him Ryan (because that's his name) - is desperately eager to learn more about all aspects of electronics. Every now and then, an email will "ping" its way into my Inbox with a new question. The problem is that there's rarely an easy answer, because there are typically myriad underlying assumptions and potential areas for confusion.
Recently, Ryan has turned his attention to computers. Just a few minutes ago, for example, he sent me an email asking: "Can an operating system be created in assembly language? Also, what is the need for assembly in these days of languages like C/C++ and Java when memory is so cheap?"
Now, I must admit that I was tempted to send a short, quick, and easy (on me) answer, but I remember how confusing things were for me at the beginning - plus I'm a bit obsessive-compulsive about this sort of thing - so I responded as follows; I would be interested to hear your thoughts as to the way I presented all of this.Hi Ryan - as usual, there's more to your question than meets the eye LOL. Let's start with the fact that a processor (we'll focus on microprocessors/MPUs or microcontrollers/MCUs, but this applies to everything up to mainframe computers) ultimately executes what are called "machine code instructions." These are basically numbers representing instructions or data, where number 'x' might indicate an "Add" instruction, number 'y' might indicate a "Compare" instruction, and so forth.