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Assembler facts for kids

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W65C816S Machine Code Monitor
Machine language monitor in a W65C816S single-board computer, displaying code disassembly, as well as processor register and memory dumps.

In computer science an assembler is a program that turns assembly language into machine code. An assembler is a program that takes basic computer instructions and converts them into a pattern of bits that the computer's processor can use to perform its basic operations. Some people call these instructions assembler language and others use the term assembly language.

Most computers come with a specified set of very basic instructions that correspond to the basic machine operations that the computer can perform. For example, a "Load" instruction causes the processor to move a string of bits from a location in the processor's memory to a special holding place called a register.

The programmer can write a program using a sequence of these assembler instructions.

This sequence of assembler instructions, known as the source code or source program, is then specified to the assembler program when that program is started. The assembler program takes each program statement in the source program and generates a corresponding bit stream or pattern (a series of 0's and 1's of a given length). The output of the assembler program is called the object code or object program relative to the input source program. The sequence of 0's and 1's that constitute the object program is sometimes called machine code. The object program can then be run (or executed) whenever desired.

In the earliest computers, programmers actually wrote programs in machine code, but assembler languages or instruction sets were soon developed to speed up programming. Today, assembler programming is used only where very efficient control over processor operations is needed.

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