Prehistory of The Art of Electronics

The Art of Electronics started life as a set of notes for an electronics course, Physics 123, taught in the Physics Department at Harvard University since 1974.  We chose this course number because we wanted to teach “all of electronics” in one semester — that is, “1-2-3 Electronics”.

We first tried a few textbooks, of the “electronics for scientists” variety, but were unhappy with them all.  None seemed to offer the intuitive “back-of-the-envelope” approach to electronic design — that we favor.  So we started writing (literally: in pencil, on paper, by hand) a set of “notes”.  (click here for a sample page, and here for the 1970’s-era table of contents.)  These grew to some 200 pages, and acquired considerable popularity. People wanted copies, even if they weren’t taking the course.

After xeroxing a few hundred copies, we decided that there was a need for a real book, one that explained how real circuit designers design circuits. The scope of The Book (as we called it) grew enormously, with a large-format first edition of some 700 pages, extended to more than 1100 pages, 1000 figures, and 80 tables in the second edition, and to more than 1220 pages, 1500 figures, 50 photographs, 80 tables, and 90 oscilloscope screen-captures in the third edition.