It was just a few months ago that I started to get back into 8-Bit computing. It started with Ben Eater’s Breadboard 6502 build. Something about his complete exploration of that build including single stepping the clock and watching the processor registers was really compelling to me.
I built Ben's project by following along with the videos. It's currently inside a shadowbox in my office wall blinking away :-)
My wife was the only one not surprised that two months later I was completely immersed in the "modern" 8-Bit computing scene. And by modern I really mean the 1983 computing scene.
Somewhere along the way, I decided to really learn 6502/6510 Assembly language. On social media I was mostly met with “why would you want to do that?”
Sure, there were some people who said “I always wanted to do that” but the vast majority of people were in the “that’s dumb” or “I don’t know why anyone would want to do that” categories.
I’m not a people pleaser, so it didn’t bother me, but I think it bothers some people when you do something obscure or off the beaten path and people want to know your motives.
You know what? You don’t need motives.
“Because I want to.”
That's not really all of it, but it's the answer that shuts up the people who don't really care what the REAL answer is:
An 8 Bit computer like the Spectrum, Apple II, Commodore VIC/64, TRS-80, Atari lines are just simple enough that with A LOT of effort, one person can learn and understand how every component works to the most granular level. From Logic gates on the board, to program counters and memory management, to how the pixels are drawn on the screen.
I can't say that with my MacBook pro. I LOVE modern computers (mostly), BUT I could study all of the components of a "modern" computer and never get to the completeness that I can on my Commodore 64. It's just too complicated on every level for a single person to be an expert at the whole package completely. You could spend a lifetime just on the main processor chip architecture.
And besides, who says there has to be why? Why are people REALLY into cheese, or wine, or backpacking, or knitting, or...
I want to. I'm both fascinated and entertained by it.