Crack Open One of These Books, Part 2

Following up on Part 1 of my look at some favorite engineering books — which followed Bill Schweber’s blog about cracking open a design book — let's consider a few more that provided solid engineering information.

Click on the picture below to launch the slideshow. I have shown a few representative circuits from these books, although I can't do them justice with these few pictures.

This was a good book to have available if you worked in the broadcast industry, which I did for awhile at the start of my career...

This was a good book to have available if you worked in the broadcast industry,
which I did for awhile at the start of my career…

Let us know about your favorite books (data, application, or other) that you used or still use in your work and how they help you.

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13 comments on “Crack Open One of These Books, Part 2

    May 16, 2013

    I am sure many experienced engineers will have one book or two on the shelf that dates back so far that the pages are starting to yellow. I have my 1961 book :Transistor Circuit Analysis and Design” by Fitchen, and the 1947 (3rd printing) of “Principles of Electrical Engineering” by Timbie and Bush, and 1943 “Principles of Electrical Engineering Series, Magnetic Circuits and Transformers” by the staff at MIT.

    I wonder if other classic books such as “Analog Filer Design” by Van Walkenburg, and Millman's “Microelectronics”, and “Micro-Electronic Circuits” by Sedra and Smith, are on engineer's reference shelves?

    I do remember my college professor getting the class to design with vacuum tubes – all a great base-line for designing with modern transistors.

  2. Michael Dunn
    May 16, 2013

    Love the constant-current transformers. Are there details of how they work? Some sort of auto-autotransformer? 🙂

  3. hstearnsjr
    May 22, 2013

    The RCA Radiotron Designer's Handbook by Langford-Smith is impressive,

    It's fun to see how much was known in the 40's.


    I also like the Applications Manual for Operational Amplifiers by

    Philbrick/Nexus research from 1968

    and “Handbook of operational amplifier applictaions” and 

    “Operational Amplifier active RC networks from Burr-Brown

    from 1963 and '66 respectively.


    Hoyt Stearns

    Scottsdale, Arizona US

  4. Brad Albing
    May 22, 2013

    I have that one also. And I agree – now (knowing what I do) when I look at the designs and their analysis, the engineering is solid and deep.

  5. Andy_I
    May 22, 2013

    Loved the Radiotron Designer's Handbook.  It started me getting more RCA books and I ended up with many others, including books about the (then) relatively obscure thing called COS/MOS.

    Hated Tremaine's Audio Cyclopedia.  Chock full of errors.

    In the interest of space, I have had to discard many of my old beloved databooks that I no longer use.  Sob.  I have been convinced that nobody else will use them either.


  6. geezer69
    May 22, 2013

    Any of you who would like a copy of my PowerPoint presentation “Antique Electronics,” Send me your snailmail address. It's too big to email, but I'll send you a copy on disc. It has slides on the items mentioned and lots more.

    Email rneale AT rochester dot rr dot com.

  7. mediatechnology
    May 22, 2013

    Interdesign was NE555 timer inventor Hans R. Camenzind's company. This book was published in 1976 and although Interdesign is long gone contains some interesting circuits. I don't think many were published.

  8. mediatechnology
    May 22, 2013

    I have one book in my collection that I bought from a bookstore (or library sale) in Hillsboro, Texas about an hour south of my home and about 4 hours north of San Antonio. I bought the book based on it's title but I didn't discover who had previously owned it until sometime later…

    The book is dated 1959…

    The owner appears to have been Don Lancaster…

  9. Jonathan Jensen
    May 25, 2013

    My day job is an analog / digital / RF custom integrated circuit engineer.  I personally love the analog design side much, much more so than the digital side.

    By age measures, I was born around the time the horzontal output tube was replaced with a transistor.  In that context, I really surpise a lot of folks with my knowledge of tubes and old / antique designs and methods.

    My thirst for electronics and associated know-how began when I entered high school and subsequently got my driver's license and could hit the local thrift stores.  My high school electronics teacher was a “junk” collector and begged the school district for any electronic donations that came in.  The lab was full of every kind of electronic or electromechanical widget you could think of — fertile ground to folks like me.

    Even in the late 1980s, my electronics teacher had us fish our a tube from a giant box of surplus tubes, look up the data sheet, and make a simple class A amplifier out of it.

    While my father himself was an electrical engineer (digital side), I tested his patience by filling 1/2 the garage with everything electronic I could afford at the local thrift stores.  I would tear into it and try to reverse engineer it – including drawing schematics on paper.  (I wish I had that kind of time again.)

    As the years wore on, I have collected many (a 100 or so) books on engineering and electronic circuits (cookbooks and such).  My father willed his college engineering books to me as well.

    I add the consensus that there were a lot of “old” engineers who really knew their stuff.  As I read through – study I should say – my father's textbook on the design of the television standards and consumer TV sets (throughout the 1930s and 1940s), the elegant use of math in conjunction with the availlability of tube types told me there were some very smart and resourceful dudes back then.

    I could go on because I am very passionate about the type of skills the “old salts” gained and have struggled to convince my peers of their value.

    But, to be brief, one book that comes to mind is the “Electronics Circuits Manual” by John Markus (copyright 1971 McGraw-Hill, lib. of congress # 70-152007).  It contained over 3,100 different circuits – many of which were used in consumer products.  This book gave me my first insights as to how the old electronic organs made the different sounding instruments.

    I cannot say how many schematics, books, Sam's Photofacts, etc. I have devoured over the years, but I have a real affinity for consumer electronic design.  That seemed to be the place where the juxtaposition of cost and “some” reliability, manufacturabily, and features exposed my kind of creativity.

    All of the “old time” knowledge has made a very significant impact on my ability to design the analog portion of the custom chips.  It may surprise many folks how much of the fundamental principles of engineering havent changed over the decades.  They really can't believe that doing work in your head (yes even the math) makes a big difference — until they have me sit in on a design review.


  10. Brad Albing
    May 25, 2013

    Nicely said. Thanks for taking the time to share some thoughts on a book, knowledge, and on collecting “stuff.”

  11. jkvasan
    May 30, 2013


    I would rate “Art Of Electronics” by Paul Horowitz as one of the best books to preserve. Every time I read this book, I get fresh insights into electronics.

    “Functional Electronics” by K.V.Ramanan is another book which details functional blocks of electronics nicely.

  12. Brad Albing
    May 30, 2013

    @mediatechnology – OK, now that's pretty cool to snag a book that he once owned.

  13. Brad Albing
    May 30, 2013

    @Michael Dunn – I think that fabricating it as an inductor with a moveable core stucture will do what's needed. Make the core with a moveable section (call that the armature) that closes the magnetic circuit. The more current you draw, the stronger the mag-field. That pulls the armature in closer, which increases the inductance, which of course also increases the inductive reactance which lowers the current. Well maybe not lowers, but maintains it at some predetermined level. It's a closed loop servo system. Pretty cool for late 19th/early 20th century technology.

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