When I was a student intern in 1985, I worked for Loral in Pasadena. I had a great time that summer, learning from actual problem-solving engineers.
At the end of the summer, my supervisor told me, “Stay in analog. Digital design is a dime-a-dozen and will be very popular. But staying in analog will always lead to a job — it's an analog world and people will have to convert the signal out of the wall to something the digital people can use.” This statement has stayed with me even though now people say today's world is digital. Is it really? Several conditions cannot be directly processed digitally.
All of our senses result in an analog processing for our brains. We hear multiple octaves of tones and at many levels of volume. We see a myriad of colors, not black and white. We feel different levels of pressure, not just one level or none. We feel various degrees of temperature, and not necessarily hot or cold. Taste and smell are even more analog than what I have presented thus far.
We can take the analog world to non-human applications as well. Take the nearby wall outlet. I say that a digital person sees the output as high or low. The analog engineer in me responds, “What do you want from it?”
As I go about in life, other things become quite interesting to the digital realm. Watch closely to the other drivers around you. Or feel carefully how the driver of the car you are in is controlling the speed. There are the analog drivers that accelerate up the hill in order to maintain speed and back off the accelerator on the downhill to let the engine slow the car. The digital driver will hold the pedal at a set value up the hill and the car will slow down, yet go faster on the downhill. Even on the level road, I see the digital drivers in action — brake or gas — stop and go. The analog driver will get better mileage than the digital driver in these instances.
The current electronic trend is digital power supplies. Look carefully at the overall frequency response of the digital power supply versus the old analog power supply. Where the change in power demand is slow, the digital supply can be a better performer since it can adjust the power supply parameters to be more efficient at low-power levels as compared to high power. But when the change in power demand is rapid, such as a computer's processor power, analog still dominates with the MHz switch-mode supply.
So, is digital really better than analog? What stories do you have that can prove or disprove that analog is more important than digital?