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Back to Build a Modern Computer from First Principles: From Nand to Tetris (Project-Centered Course)

Learner Reviews & Feedback for Build a Modern Computer from First Principles: From Nand to Tetris (Project-Centered Course) by Hebrew University of Jerusalem

2,943 ratings
915 reviews

About the Course

What you’ll achieve: In this project-centered course* you will build a modern computer system, from the ground up. We’ll divide this fascinating journey into six hands-on projects that will take you from constructing elementary logic gates all the way through creating a fully functioning general purpose computer. In the process, you will learn - in the most direct and constructive way - how computers work, and how they are designed. What you’ll need: This is a self-contained course: all the knowledge necessary to succeed in the course and build the computer system will be given as part of the learning experience. Therefore, we assume no previous computer science or engineering knowledge, and all learners are welcome aboard. You will need no physical materials, since you will build the computer on your own PC, using a software-based hardware simulator, just like real computers are designed by computer engineers in the field. The hardware simulator, as well as other software tools, will be supplied freely after you enroll in the course. Course format: The course consists of six modules, each comprising a series of video lectures, and a project. You will need about 2-3 hours to watch each module's lectures, and about 5-10 hours to complete each one of the six projects. The course can be completed in six weeks, but you are welcome to take it at your own pace. You can watch a TED talk about this course by Googling "nand2tetris TED talk". *About Project-Centered Courses: Project-centered courses are designed to help you complete a personally meaningful real-world project, with your instructor and a community of learners with similar goals providing guidance and suggestions along the way. By actively applying new concepts as you learn, you’ll master the course content more efficiently; you’ll also get a head start on using the skills you gain to make positive changes in your life and career. When you complete the course, you’ll have a finished project that you’ll be proud to use and share....

Top reviews

Jun 13, 2021

Undeniably one of the best computer science courses. The advertising isn't false! This course permanently changed my perspective on hardware and software along with the relationship between the two...

May 22, 2021

Thanks to the instructors for bringing forth such an amazing course. The way the course is strucured makes it very interesting and easy to learn. Loved and enjoyed the course and learnt a lot from it

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101 - 125 of 913 Reviews for Build a Modern Computer from First Principles: From Nand to Tetris (Project-Centered Course)

By Todd P

Apr 10, 2017

I cannot recommend this course enough! Although I have developed software professionally for almost 20 years, some areas beneath the high-level languages I create software with felt like dark mysteries. This course was extremely helpful in illuminating many of those areas. If you develop software professionally but did not graduate college with a computer science degree, I highly recommend this course to you.

By Ben S

Aug 3, 2019

While I have multiple degrees in computer science, I have never felt I have a solid appreciation of how a computer works from the electrons up. This course is by far the best I have taken, and incredibly rewarding to work through. I feel I now have a first principles level grasp of how a computer works from the logic gates all the way through to the operating system. I can't recommend this course enough.

By Arun C

Sep 28, 2019

It is an excellent course. I have a bachelors degree in Computer Science and I have done some portions of what has been taught in this course in our logic design lab and assembly programming lab, but bringing all together in a single project-centered course like this one is a novel and useful idea. This course should be made compulsory in all bachelor degree courses in Computer Science and Engineering.

By Berker K

Apr 1, 2017

I only audited the course due to shortage of time. A complex topic like computer hardware architecture can't be taught as simple and nice as like in this course..I took many moocs and this is one of the best. I also loved the end of the lectures named as "perspectives" which is about the questions of students mostly ask about the relevant week's topic. Thank you lecturers a lot and a lot and a lot..

By Joseph A

Dec 2, 2019

This is the best course I have ever taken. The professor Noam Nisan and Shimon Shocken are incredible. The lectures are well paced with helpful slides, and they explain concepts very clearly.

The projects are challenging yet fun so in the end it's incredibly rewarding.

I can't even begin to imagine the work and knowledge required to a course like this together.

From the bottom of my heart thank you.

By Nelson O

Jun 8, 2020

Very comprehensive course that is both in-depth and broad in terms of its analysis of current computing architecture. It makes one understand how sublime modern computers are - for they complete tasks of astounding complexity despite having a much simpler internal architecture than one might suppose. Certainly, the feeling of satisfaction I felt upon finishing a task is nothing short of immense!

By Krishnamurthy K

Mar 3, 2018

I am a self learner with a non-computer background, but I am a programmer by profession. I have been looking for information of how a computer is built from the inside. I have read many theoretical books, but none matches your cross-section coverage from start (gates), abstracting away to the top (user programs). I have purchased your book too and would recommend others to get it. Thank you!

By adarsh t

Jul 28, 2020

Amazing course! I know how to code and stuff but the fundamentals of how things work in hardware was something I was unaware of. This course takes you from teaching about logic gates to making an assembler! Its pretty great and you will learn a lot (even if you know a thing or 2 about it). On top of this, the instructors (near the end of this course), also teach some good coding practices.

By Tim F

Aug 22, 2020

Great course! It's not impossibly difficult, but you will want to spend some time thinking things through. In the first week, I wasn't sure that the lectures completely covered the material, but YouTube exists, so I was able to find some videos on digital algebra to fill in the gaps. Week 5 was the toughest, and if you have any experience programming in higher levels, week 6 is a breeze.

By Herman P

Nov 29, 2019

This is without any doubt one of the best Coursera courses I've taken.

I always wanted to know how the computer works on hardware level. I read a lot of stuff but none of them allowed to understand truly what's inside and how and why works.

The materials and projects of the course are simply great and (from my point of view) makes you understand much more deeply the concepts of the videos.

By Vinicius G d R

Jul 8, 2019

Very nice course on how to build a computer from elementary circuits up. It's a simplified computer, but gives you a good sense of how actual computer work. It has exercises that are good for retaining the contents and making sure you understand the concepts. I definitely recommend for someone that wants to understand what happens between the assembly language and the computer circuits.

By Lieu Z H

Aug 28, 2017

I really liked the comprehensive and bottom-up approach to this course. However, I would have liked a bit more instruction on how the schematics for the CPU and ALU were derived, as we were merely implementing it without having to understanding why the ALU and the CPU was the way it is. The same goes for the machine language.

Nonetheless, an excellent course, and well worth your time.

By Han L

Oct 4, 2016

This is a great course that explained every thing from gates to actual PC very clearly.

I'd recommend this course to any one who try to fresh up computer science basics.

I only have a small suggestions, the four week taught about machine language, fifth week taught about the CPU-ROM-RAM architecture. From the first three weeks, (in my own opinion) I feel the order should be reversed.

By Andrew N

Feb 10, 2019

I have taken many physics and computer science classes, and this is by far the best one. Not only it explains in detail how computers actually work, it also gives you tools and knowledge to implement the computer yourself. Both the book and lectures are very good at explaining things and assignments, while not being too hard, concentrate on learning and understanding the principles.

By Madhuresh m

Oct 12, 2018

I would recommend this course and as well part 2 of the same to every computer science student no matter what year they are in. Gives a clarity how different layers are related and function together . And if the authors of this course are reading this comment then i am really grateful to you for putting in your effort in this phenomenal piece of art that you have created.Thank you .

By Stefan L

Jan 20, 2021

as software student graduate this was a welcome low-level challenge to deepen my understanding of what happens "under the hood". Overall nicely explained (at least for someone familiar with the matter) and well defined goals for each week. definitely recommended for anyone that wants to understand a bit better how higher level languages work when actually working with 0 and 1.

By Joshua P B

Jul 19, 2020

My first course on coursera. I had a blast taking it. It was challenging and fun. I had little programming background which was not an issue until the last project; building an assembler. It was optional to code it, so I decided to learn 'c'. I wish that I picked python instead. I spent the entire week on it. If you are dedicated and interested, I highly recommend this course

By Sai G

Sep 10, 2020

Excellent introduction to building a modern computer with ample hands-on experience. Very fulfilling experience with all the programming assignments, especially the final one. To see my assembler taking any Hack assembly program and convert to a machine instruction is so satisfying. Appreciate the time that has been put in to make this course a challenging and rewarding one.

By Guo F

Sep 26, 2021

A very cool course indeed! I got recommended by this course from other websites and I never regret this decision to take this course! The materials are well-organized, and the assignments really build on previous ones, and the boom you get a computer running (virtually)! Super exciting experiences and I think this is definitely a great add-up to my Computer Science journey!

By Sijo X

May 22, 2021

I don't know how to express the joy I feel now, just completed this course. This is what I have been looking for. This course gives such valuable information we all are missing in the world of high-level languages and tools. This will definitely connect each programmer to the soul of the machine and anyone who wanted to understand computers, even if you are not a programmer


Apr 30, 2020

Excellent. A really eye-opening course. I learnt a lot of things in the process of completing the projects that were assigned each week. It was a great way of learning the basics of how a computer works, and it made my more conscious on how a program is ran when you make one for a project or course. In conclusion, really good course with great instructors and great content.

By Jacob F

Apr 30, 2019

Really outstanding course. I learned a tremendous amount about how computers REALLY work, and got a glimpse behind the curtain to see and build some of the magic for myself. Anyone with even a passing interest in computers should take this course! The lectures are digestible, and the projects are very well designed. Only suggestion is --- WHERE IS PART TWO???? WE NEED IT!


Jun 3, 2017

This course helped me to learn how a basic computer performs.My heartiest thanks to both of my beloved professors and mentors for helping me to understand the crux of computer design.I am looking for future courses offered by them with advanced difficulty level and related to computer architecture and design that covers more detailed parts of computers like ALU, CPU etc.

By Andrew M

Nov 11, 2019

Having now taken a number of different courses across both on Coursera and elsewhere, I can honestly say that this course is perhaps the best one I've taken -- it's comprehensive without being overly tedious, and the fact that the assignments are projects, rather than quizzes or exams, was both more engaging and helped me better understand (and appreciate) the material.

By Yugesh P

Aug 28, 2018

The course is self-contained as advertised. The forum moderators are prompt and excellent at providing help. The projects were sufficiently challenging without being intimidating. Professors Nisan and Shocken deliver the knowledge in a very lucid manner. Overall a very nice course to take if you're interested in how a computer works by building one from the ground up.