What Does PEEK and POKE Mean?

In the parlance around the early computer systems of the 1980s, “PEEK and POKE” were common terms for manipulating and evaluating memory storage. PEEK referred to looking at a particular memory address, while POKE referred to altering that memory address.


Techopedia Explains PEEK and POKE

The most common uses of PEEK and POKE relate to early computing systems such as eight-bit processors. Here, the memory addresses were limited to a certain eight-bit (256-value) range. A user could issue a PEEK command to look at the contents of a particular memory cell. POKE would effectively change that value.

One of the biggest examples of PEEK and POKE applies to the gaming industry as it developed in the 1980s. Some ended up using POKEs as cheat tools that would alter some memory space in the game to change various conditions such as player status, assets and scores. However, without a direct reference for a POKE command, the user would be going in blind. Some companies issued various cheats by showing players where to change a particular memory address.


Related Terms

Latest Programming Languages Terms

Related Reading

Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…