In the Age of Vacuum Tubes, 6th Grader’s Dad Showed Him How Transistors Work

Wozniak went on to invent the personal computer.
This example would probably fit with some of what Malcolm Gladwell claims in his bestseller Outliers.

(p. 15) I have to point out here that at no time did my dad make a big deal about my progress in electronics. He taught me stuff, sure, but he always acted as if it was just normal for me. By the sixth grade, I was really advanced in math and science, everyone knew it, and I’d been tested for IQ and they told us it was 200-plus. But my dad never acted like this was something he should push me along with. He pulled out a blackboard from time to time, a tiny little blackboard we had in our house on Edmonton Avenue, and when I asked, he would answer anything and make diagrams for it. I remember how he showed me what happened if you put a plus voltage into a transistor and got a minus voltage out the other end of the transistor. There must have been an inverter, a type of logic gate. And he even physically taught me how to make an AND gate and an OR gate out of parts he got–parts called diodes and resistors. And he showed me how they needed a transistor in between to amplify the signal and connect the output of one gate to the input of the other.

(p. 16) To this very moment, that is the way every single digital device on the planet works at its most basic level.
He took the time–a lot of time–to show me those few little things. They were little things to him, even though Fairchild and Texas Instruments had just developed the transistor only a decade earlier.
It’s amazing, really, to think that my dad taught me about transistors back when almost no one saw anything but vacuum tubes. So he was at the top of the state of the art, probably because his secret job put him in touch with such advanced technology. So I ended up being at the state of the art, too.
The way my dad taught me, though, was not to rote-memorize how parts are connected to form a gate, but to learn where the electrons flowed to make the gate do its job. To truly internalize and understand what is going on, not just read stuff off some blueprint or out of some book.
Those lessons he taught me still drive my intelligence and my methods for all the computer designs I do today.

Source:
Wozniak, Steve, and Gina Smith. iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2006.

The reference to the Gladwell book is:
Gladwell, Malcolm. Outliers: The Story of Success. New York, NY: Little, Brown, and Co., 2008.

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