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What is the difference between machinecode and bytecode?

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September 17, 2007 1:50PM

The whole notion of "virtual" has become rather stretched in recent years, but the traditional distinction was that machinecode executes directly on the hardware, whilst bytecode is executed by a software emulator of a fully specified mythical machine. Bytecode is important to the UCSD Pascal p-system, to Forth, to SmallTalk, and more recently to Java. Of course, one could certainly build hardware which properly executes any of those bytecodes, and some folks have done just that.