Dr. Joe Zwislocki served as my dissertation advisor during those tumultuous years in cochlear physiology when our understanding of outer hair cell (OHC) function was evolving from that of a sensory cell to that of a mechanical amplifier. Spoendlin had recently demonstrated that 90%–95% of auditory‐nerve afferents originated from inner hair cells (IHCs), but the characteristics of IHC receptor potentials remained an enigma. Otoacoustic emissions and OHC electromotility were terms yet to be defined. Theories relating auditory‐nerve activity to basilar‐membrane mechanics included concepts of second filters, basilar‐membrane nonlinearities, and phase opposition. It was a fertile time for theories and experiments attempting to describe a black‐box system that did not yield its mysteries easily. Around 1977, IHC receptor potentials were found to be as sharply tuned as auditory‐nerve responses, and the era of cochlear micromechanics began. Joe Zwislocki, as usual, has played a primary role in defining this new era, utilizing the relationships between the OHC stereocilia and the tectorial membrane as his modeling clay.