Re: Programming in assembler or is it assembly ?

Gary Flynn <>
2 Mar 1997 11:05:28 -0500

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Re: Programming in assembler or is it assembly ? (Gary Flynn) (1997-03-02)
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From: Gary Flynn <>
Newsgroups: comp.lang.asm.x86,alt.lang.asm,comp.compilers
Date: 2 Mar 1997 11:05:28 -0500
Organization: Erol's Internet Services
References: <>
Keywords: assembler

The Assembly Programmer wrote:
> I wonder, can you talk about programming in assembler or is it
> programming in assembly. Personally, I think the program that compiles
> your source code is an 'assembler' while the language you use is
> assembly.
> Another question : is an assembler an interpreter or a compiler ?

Hi, nameless pseudo = 'Assembly Programmer',

You have reached, in a completely anteseptic manner, the heart of the

When I was a kid, I spent all my lunch money on the arcade game
"Gallica." When I was at level 1 (machine language), I thought level
2 (assembly language) an unattainable goal. When I had reached level
2, I thought level 10 (BASIC) an unattainable goal. When I had
reached level 10, I thought level 99 [max] (Visual Basic) was the
goal; once I reached it, I thought the whole thing was too trivial for
my attention.

The classical distinction between assemblers (which translate symbolic
operands into addresses and instructions) and compilers (which
translate an abstract language into symbolic operands, etc.) becomes
more and more diffuse. The individual steps are overwhelmed by the
greater task, which is getting the thing running with the least
effort. A purist would make a great uproar of the distinction; it is
really a distinction without a difference.

Traditionally, there was a differnece. As a practical matter, a
compiler that generates a binary in one pass can not be judged by
either of the traditional definitions. (On the other hand, name one!)

Everyday someone posts a question to this group referring to an
"assembler" as a "compiler." As an (Englsh) language purist, I
object; as a practical person, I say "who cares?"

As an everyday matter of English usage, "assembly", which can be a
noun, ('wing assembly'), is used only as an adjective ('assembly
program') in this context. The program that converts this into a
binary is an assembler.

Gary Flynn
Washington. DC

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