Teaching kids about computers...

Tony Duell ard at p850ug1.demon.co.uk
Thu Nov 22 17:09:27 CST 2007

> >  That's why you should start at a suitable level of
> > *abstraction* if you will. Learn about the innards
> > from *a distance*.
> Learn about them *when you need to* and not before.

This depends _a lot_ on the person learning the stuff.

I find such abstractions to be a major hinderance to learning, it comes 
under the 'oversimiplifcaiton' I mentioned last night. There are too many 
books at the 'this processr, this memory, this smack on head' level, and 
I have never been able to learn anything useful from a book that seems to 
suggest these various units operate on some kind of deep magic that I'll 
never understand. 

Worse still, IMHO, are those books that explain the basic logic gates and 
the Eccles-Jordan circuit (SR flip-flop) and then jump to the 'processor 
+ memory + I/O' level with no explanation of how you might wire up gates 
to make a processor. ARCH!

There was one reasonable book put out by Radio Shack many years ago. I 
forget the title, but IIRC it had a geeen cover and sprial binding along 
the top edge. What made it intereting was that it contained a scehanmtic 
for a very simple processor (I think it could address 16 4-bit memory 
locations, nothing more), and gave simple programs to run on it. Totally 
useless for any real work, it was certainly simple enough that you could 
analyse the operation of said programs by hand.

Of course the fact that I grew up fiddling with transistors (and vlaves 
for that matter) probably has something to do with the way I regard 


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