When I first took up electronics, about a hundred years BC (that’s Before Computers, of course) there were valves to be plugged in and out and each one performed its own esoteric function. To know which valve to replace required that you be initiated into the intimate and arcane knowledge of the art. I spent a good ten years immersing myself in that. Then transistors came along and the merry-go-round started again. Another few years passed another life’s worth of hard won experience and suddenly integrated circuits were all the rage, and with them came the thin end of the wedge of the digital age.
We read all the books – no Google in those days – and then read some more books, before we knew it we were into computers. Computers needed software and we needed more books. Each microprocessor had its own language and if you wanted anything done you wrote the machine code that it needed – to make it happen. I can remember sitting with a pad of squared paper trying to form recognisable alphabetical symbols with the minimum possible number of dots – then turning those patterns of dots into bits and bytes to be hand fed to computing’s current leading edge.
This Blue Tit understands. Here he is, trying to teach the youngster the intricacies of the seed and nut feeder, wondering to himself if his father was right and his grandfather really did peck holes in the top of milk bottles – whatever they were.