This is the standard configuration on how to Interface a uC like 8051 to PC RS232 with MAX232A. The UART or Serial port was not present in 8049/8749 chips which were the ancestors of 8051/8031. Pages of code were needed to make a software UART in MCS-48. The 8051 integrated the hardware UART and short commands made it tick. The most important innovation which made uC popular was the C in 80C31. C is for CMOS. This made the chip work cooler and work on even batteries and small power supplies.
80C51, SBC, Firmware and Circuits
The 8749 and 8751 are the UV EPROM type of uC. With limited erase/write cycles. The FLASH revolution changed every thing, you could update firmware over a phone line modem. Even without Ethernet, the firmware could be updated by making every embedded device a node on the EPABX. Now TCP/IP and Wi-Fi makes it all very easy.
I made a SBC using 80C31, around 1990 perhaps, i found a 8031 circuit and monitor code by Grodzik in elektor. This helped me interface a 8051 to PC via RS232-serial-comm port with HyperTerminal. I made my own terminal using VB it was called determ.