Thanks for all the replies. I look forward to more ... Maybe a little bit about me will explain my desire to learn the registry. Please don't read anything negative into this post. I am merely explaining my mindset and passion for learning.
I am a hot rodder from the 1960s and 1970s who can no longer afford the high price of going fast. The engineering mindset of how does it work, why does it work, can it be modified, what are the limiting factors is what made my hot rods fast, reliable, and as safe as possible for the speeds I was driving still lives inside of me. Computers open a whole new world of the how does it work, etc.
In historical perspective I applaud the conquests of some past achievements in computers. What would have happened if David Wheeler had not designed the first stored computer program (1948)? How about Dennis Ritchie's desire to replace Assembly Language with something portable (the C programming language) to deploy operating systems (1970s)? Why did Bjarne Stroustrup decide to write a better C language (C++, released 1985)?
I am not foolish enough to believe that I will be the next innovator and not pessimistic enough to complete divorce the thought of the possibility from my mind. I can go a long way toward satisfying my incurably curious mind by learning the nuts and bolts of PCs and the Windows Operating Systems.
Maybe I can learn how to safely modify my own machine or those owned by others, and maybe not. Maybe I can develop something neat with marketability, and maybe not. I will most certainly lose nothing by learning on a test machine which will leave the other computers here at home unmolested by my efforts and mistakes which are sure to accompany the learning process.
I truly appreciate the replies and understand them from the perspective of the various authors. My perspective is somewhat different as explained above.
More replies are welcome and anticipated with relish.