The "Little Man" Computer


Although it is completely inaccurate, it is sometimes convenient to imagine a computer's processing as if it were being managed by a "little man" inside the computer. This (imagined) "little man" behaves following an extremely rigid routine and never performs outside that routine.

An LMC (Little Man Computer) can be imagined to have certain resources available for the little man to use: input and output "trays", a calculator, a collection of numbered "mailboxes", and a counter to keep track of which mailbox the "little man" should look in for his next instruction.


LMC Components




LMC Instruction Cycle

    The "little man" continuously repeats the following sequence of activities:
  1. Instruction Fetch

      As a first step in the fixed routine, the "little man" must get the instruction telling him what he should do next.
    1. he reads and remembers the Mailbox number currently displayed as the Counter value
    2. he goes over to the Mailbox with the Mailbox number that he is remembering, reads the 3 digit value in that Mailbox, and remembers it as the current Instruction value (forgetting any previous Instruction value that he might have been remembering

  2. Counter Increment

  3. Instruction Execution

    1. the "little man" compares the first digit of the Instruction value that he is remembering with the list of values in the "Instruction Set Table" to find out what he should do.
    2. he then follows the directions given in the Instruction Set Table that correspond to the first digit of the Instruction value.


The "Little Man Computer" Instruction Set

In order to know what should be done for any single instruction, the "little man" compares the first digit of whatever Instruction value he is currently remembering with a list of values in an Instruction Set Table and then performs what ever action is indicated in the table next to the matching code.

Instruction Format


The "No-Match" Problem