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peek: n.,vt. (and poke) The commands in most microcomputer
   BASICs for directly accessing memory contents at an absolute
   address; often extended to mean the corresponding constructs in any
   HLL (peek reads memory, poke modifies it).  Much hacking on
   small, non-MMU micros consists of `peek'ing around memory, more
   or less at random, to find the location where the system keeps
   interesting stuff.  Long (and variably accurate) lists of such
   addresses for various computers circulate (see interrupt list,
   the).  The results of `poke's at these addresses may be highly
   useful, mildly amusing, useless but neat, or (most likely) total
   lossage (see killer poke).

Since a real operating system provides useful, higher-level services for the tasks commonly performed with peeks and pokes on micros, and real languages tend not to encourage low-level memory groveling, a question like "How do I do a peek in C?" is diagnostic of the newbie. (Of course, OS kernels often have to do exactly this; a real C hacker would unhesitatingly, if unportably, assign an absolute address to a pointer variable and indirect through it.)