Originally Posted by melgross
From my own experiences in this area, I can tell you that circuits and circuit design has changed dramatically. We went from an era of mostly discreet designs with two to at most, four layer boards, to IC designs with four to six layer boards, to surface mount chips with as many as twelve layer boards. That's just a start. The tools, both software and hardware are much more sophisticated and expensive than they were back then. In fact, the field is almost unrecognizable. The sophistication of the circuits are vastly greater.
The question of whether guys like him bother to keep up is a fair one. He's pretty wealthy, and doesn't do grunt work. Has he had to keep up? That's a fair question as well. While he most likely knows the general trends and aspects of what's out there, it's very possible that he doesn't know the hands on design information guys working in these fields know now.
I have that same problem even though I keep my hand in, and continue reading a number of industry publications as well. But without having the need of a working engineer in the field to keep really up to date, there's lots of things I don't know well enough to be able to work with without having to go back and taking courses again.
While I would never claim to be as ingenious as he was at Apple, I likely know about as much, as do many thousands of others. There are many thousands of others who know much more, because they are current, and are doing work on a daily basis.
He hasn't had the need to do that for many years.
Thats the first logical explanation of any detail, that anyone has posted.
Do people build actual (physical) test circuits anymore -- or is it all done with test simulation on computers?
How would a guy like Woz, experiment in today's environment -- seeing if he could get the same results with fewer chips/transistors; or get additional results from existing chips/transistors. This was one of Woz's strengths.
My Dad started out in the late 1930s, as a self-taught electrical wizz -- crystal radios, car radios, invented/adapted universal turn signals, headlight dimmers, and that little light that blinked if you got a phone call while you were out... starting with vacuum tubes all the way through transistors, then semiconductors. He built his own Hi-Fis, Stereos, theremins, electric organs -- but first he had to build his test equipment -- oscilloscopes, signal generators, etc.
His last invention was in 1990 -- he developed a solid state device which sat between the battery and the battery cable. It would monitor battery strength -- and disconnect the battery if it reached the threshold needed to start the car.
I mention this, because Dad never had any formal training -- just visualized things and tinkered around to make it happen.
He actually bought an Apple ][, a few weeks before I got mine -- total surprise to both of us.
He almost drooled when I introduced him to Woz.
The point: I would say that technology changed quite a bit in the 50 + years -- yet he was able to keep his "hand in" and remain a vital contributor.