Preface to the Third Edition

Moore’s Law continues to assert itself, unabated, since the publication of the second edition a quarter century ago. In this new third (and final!) edition we have responded to this upheaval with major enhancements:

  • an emphasis on devices and circuits for A/D and D/A conversion (Chapter 13), because embedded microcontrollers are everywhere
  • illustration of specialized peripheral ICs for use with microcontrollers (Chapter 15)
  • detailed discussions of logic family choices, and of interfacing logic signals to the real world (Chapters 10 and 12)
  • greatly expanded treatment of important topics in the essential analog portion of instrument design:
    – precision circuit design (Chapter 5)
    – low-noise design (Chapter 8)
    – power switching (Chapters 3, 9, and 12)
    – power conversion (Chapter 9)

And we have added many entirely new topics, including:

  • digital audio and video (including cable and satellite TV)
  • transmission lines
  • circuit simulation with SPICE
  • transimpedance amplifiers
  • depletion-mode MOSFETs
  • protected MOSFETs
  • high-side drivers
  • quartz crystal properties and oscillators
  • a full exploration of JFETs
  • high-voltage regulators
  • optoelectronics
  • power logic registers
  • delta-sigma converters
  • precision multislope conversion
  • memory technologies
  • serial buses
  • illustrative “Designs by the Masters”

In this new edition we have responded, also, to the reality that previous editions have been enthusiastically embraced by the community of practicing circuit designers, even though The Art of Electronics (now 35 years in print) originated as a course textbook. So we’ve continued the “how we do it” approach to circuit design; and we’ve expanded the depth of treatment, while (we hope) retaining the easy access and explanation of basics. At the same time we have split off some of the specifically course-related teaching and lab material into a separate Learning the Art of Electronics volume, a substantial expansion of the previous edition’s companion Student Manual for The Art of Electronics.

Digital oscilloscopes have made it easy to capture, annotate, and combine measured waveforms, a capability we have exploited by including some 90 ’scope screenshots illustrating the behavior of working circuits. Along with those doses of reality, we have included (in tables and graphs) substantial quantities of highly useful measured data – such as transistor noise and gain characteristics (en, in, rbb′; hfe, gm, goss), analog switch characteristics (RON, Qinj, capacitance), op-amp input and output characteristics (en and in over frequency, input common-mode range, output swing, auto-zero recovery, distortion, available packages), and approximate prices (!) – the sort of data often buried or omitted in datasheets but which you need (and don’t have the time to measure) when designing circuits.

We’ve worked diligently, over the 20 years it has taken to prepare this edition, to include important circuit design infomation, in the form of some 350 graphs, 50 photographs, and 80 tables (listing some 1650 active components), the latter enabling intelligent choice of circuit components by listing essential characteristics (both specified and measured) of available parts.

Because of the significant expansion of topics and depth of detail, we’ve had to leave behind some topics that were treated in the second edition, notwithstanding with the use of larger pages, more compact fonts, and most figures sized to fit in a single column. Some additional related material that we had hoped to include in this volume (on real-world properties of components, and advanced topics in BJTs, FETs, op-amps, and power control) will instead be published in a forthcoming companion volume, The Art of Electronics: The x-Chapters. References in this volume to those x-chapter sections and figures are set in italics. A newly updated website will provide a home for a continuation of the previous edition’s collection of Circuit ideas and Bad circuits; it is our hope that it will become a community, also, for a lively electronic circuit forum.

As always, we welcome corrections and suggestions (and, of course, fan mail), which can be sent to or to

With gratitude. Where to start, in thanking our invaluable colleagues? Surely topping the list is David Tranah, our indefatigable editor at the Cambridge University Press mother-ship, our linchpin, helpful \LaTeXpert, wise advisor of all things bookish, and (would you believe?) compositor! This guy slogged through 1,905 pages of marked-up text, retrofitting the \LaTeX source files with corrections from multiple personalities, then entering a few thousand index entries, and making it all work with its 1,500+ linked figures and tables. And then putting up with a couple of fussy authors. We are totally indebted to David. We owe him a pint of ale.

We are grateful to Jim Macarthur, circuit designer extraordinaire, for his careful reading of chapter drafts, and invariably helpful suggestions for improvement; we adopted every one. Our colleague Peter Lu taught us the delights of Adobe Illustrator, and appeared at a moment’s notice when we went off the rails; the book’s figures are testament to the quality of his tutoring. And our always-entertaining colleague Jason Gallicchio generously contributed his master Mathematica talents to reveal graphically the properties of delta-sigma conversion, nonlinear control, and filter functions; he left his mark, also, in the microcontroller chapter, contributing both wisdom and code.

For their many helpful contributions we thank Bob Adams, Mike Burns, Steve Cerwin, Jesse Colman, Michael Covington, Doug Doskocil, Jon Hagen, Tom Hayes, Phil Hobbs, Peter Horowitz, George Kontopidis, Maggie McFee, Curtis Mead, Ali Mehmed, Angel Peterchev, Jim Phillips, Marco Sartore, Andrew Speck, Jim Thompson, Jim van Zee, GuYeon Wei, John Willison, Jonathan Wolff, John Woodgate, and Woody Yang. We thank also others whom (we’re sure) we’ve here overlooked, with apologies for the omission. Additional contributors to the book’s content (circuits, inspired web-based tools, unusual measurements, etc., from the likes of Uwe Beis, Tom Bruhns, and John Larkin) are referenced throughout the book in the relevant text.

Simon Capelin has kept us out of the doldrums with his unflagging encouragement and his apparent inability to scold us for missed deadlines (our contract called for delivery of the finished manuscript in December. . . of 1994! We’re only 20 years late). In the production chain we are indebted to our project manager Peggy Rote, our copy editor Vicki Danahy, and a cast of unnamed graphic artists who converted our pencil circuit sketches into beautiful vector graphics.

We remember fondly our late colleague and friend Jim Williams for wonderful insider stories of circuit failures and circuit conquests, and for his take-no-prisoners approach to precision circuit design. His no-bullshit attitude is a model for us all.

And finally, we are forever indebted to our loving, supportive, and ever-tolerant spouses Vida and Ava, who suffered through decades of abandonment as we obsessed over every detail of our second encore.

A note on the tools. Tables were assembled in Microsoft Excel, and graphical data was plotted with Igor Pro; both were then beautified with Adobe Illustrator, with text and annotations in the sans-serif Helvetica Neue LT typeface. Oscilloscope screenshots are from our trusty Tektronix TDS3044 and 3054 “lunchboxes,” taken to finish- ing school in Illustrator, by way of Photoshop. The photographs in the book were taken primarily with two cameras: a Calumet Horseman 6×9 cm view camera with a 105 mm Schneider Symmar f/5.6 lens and Kodak Plus-X 120 roll film (developed in Microdol-X 1:3 at 75°F and digitized with a Mamiya multiformat scanner), and a Canon 5D with a Scheimpflug1-enabling 90 mm tilt-shift lens. The authors composed the manuscript in \LaTeX, using the PC\TeX software from Personal \TeX, Incorporated. The text is set in the Times New Roman and Helvetica typefaces, the former dating from 19312, the latter designed in 1957 by Max Miedinger.

Paul Horowitz
Winfield Hill
January 2015
Cambridge, Massachusetts

1 What’s that? Google it!
2Developed in response to a criticism of the antiquated typeface in The Times (London).