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.

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Hoist the Jolly Roger

Hoist the Jolly Roger

The worldwide Art of Electronics food chain includes various inexpensive editions, printed (with publisher’s permission) locally on gritty brownish-gray “paper.” It also includes an occasional fully ripped-off edition, in apparent violation of copyright etiquette. Check out former President Marcos’ interest in electronics, formalized in a Presidential Decree printed in an old Phillipine edition of the book:

philippines_decree

Apparently this sort of activity was OK over there, as long as you didn’t take these books out of the country:

philippines_export_ban

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Editorial Hindsight

Editorial Hindsight

Acquisition editors of major book publishers aren’t exactly famous for taking chances, especially on new authors. We learned this the hard way. Here, for example, is a typical letter we got when we were looking for a publisher for a book that, in retrospect, has made publishing history:

rejection

 


 

Interestingly, these same editors show some serious enthusiasm just a few years after publication:

next_time

 

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The Ultimate Nerdwear

The Ultimate Nerdwear

nerdwear

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Unusual Uses of the Book

Unusual Uses of the Book

Improving Posture

Improving Posture

Draft Copy

Loose Sash

Coffee Service

Coffee Service

Draft Copy

Draft Copy

Disk Compression

Disk Compression

Cure for Insomnia

Cure for Insomnia

Dominoes

Dominoes

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