Jim Williams, Artist & Poet: Analog Circuit Design

My colleague Patrick Mannion wrote an excellent blog over on discussing the recently released book edited by Bob Dobkin and the late Jim Williams. You can read it here.

A quick summary: Bob Dobkin will be at the San Jose Convention and Visitors Center today (April 23) as part of Design West. He will be signing copies of Analog Circuit Design at 5:00 p.m. in the UBM Tech Lounge.

Here is a bit of what Patrick wrote about the book:

[In 2011, Jim wrote] “Analog Circuit Design, Volume 1, A Tutorial Guide to Applications and Solutions,” edited by Bob Dobkin, Linear Technology's founder and chief technology officer, and Jim Williams.

This was quickly followed up this year by the release of, “Analog Circuit Design, Volume 2: Immersion in the Black Art of Analog Design,” again edited by Dobkin and Williams (compiled “in memory of Jim Williams, a poet who wrote in electronics.”)

To celebrate the art and the work, we’ll be hosting a special book-signing event of both these two latest volumes by Bob Dobkin himself on Tuesday, from 5 to 6 pm at DESIGN West in San Jose. Join us for beer, snacks, and a special 50% discount on the books for the event, courtesy of publisher Elsevier — all at the UBM Tech lounge on the main concourse in the McEnery Convention Center.

This should be a most pleasant time — and a chance to grab a great book at an excellent price.

18 comments on “Jim Williams, Artist & Poet: Analog Circuit Design

  1. Jack Shandle
    April 23, 2013

    It's encouraging to see books like Dobkin's being published (and finding publishers, for that matter). They should kindle the creative fires of young engineers — and help preserve the analog knowledge that is just as close to being an art as it is to being a science.

    When I was an editor at Electronic Design, I interviewed Bob Dobkin and found toward the end of the interview — and much to my surprise — that we had attended the same high school in Philadelphia (Central High). Although we attended at different times, it was interesting to talk about high school days.  Bob told me some things about Central High that I did not know. Most interestingly, that there was a small particle accelerator in the school basement. All this is apropos of nothing, I suppose, except that while the rest of us were learning Latin (yes, Latin was still in the curriculum), Bob was learning electrons


  2. Netcrawl
    April 23, 2013

    @Jack you're right! its encouraging and create some motivational drive to do something quite innovative. Its encourage creativity in the side of our young enginners, which is very important because our future depend on those young engineers, they need to well-trained and well-educated, and best of all has the big heart to chase the big dreams and  to meet today's big challenges.

    America is losing its competitive edge in the global market, I hope these books provide our young minds with the “creative drive” to pusue the unthinkable and take a “moon shot (something never done before)”, take a huge undertaking – engineering projects that could place us back on track.

    I rememebered the days when we still fighting the cold war with the Russians, when former President John F. Kennedy challenged the american public that America should go to the moon and put the first man on the moon. When JFK announced to put the man of the moon, the american teen agers started to build rockets on their garage (some of these kids have their own space plan), trying to pursue their dreams.    

  3. amrutah
    April 23, 2013

    Thanks for sharing the book titles…

       I haven't seen these books, but I feel that these should be one of the best books on Analog Design.  There were tutorails by Jim already shared on Planet Analog and I throughly enjoyed reading them.


  4. Davidled
    April 23, 2013

    Personally, I am missing Jim Williams. He always published a great of analog article in Electronic Design magazine. We lost a Guru of analog designer.  I think that still America engineer is a very competitive in the world.  Some of engineer that I knew is very creative for designing the system and lead to team as core value. 

  5. Netcrawl
    April 24, 2013

    @Daej, Are the American engineers still competitive in the global market? I think we losing it slowly. I believe we still have it but no longer hold the top position, we got so many rivals around here, there's also emerging threats coming from Asia-Its China, they killing our industry (slowly).

    We not just need another Dobkins or Williamses, we also need to retrain and rearm our engineers with the best knowledge we could put in the field- knowledge is power and critical in all industries.


  6. Jack Shandle
    April 24, 2013

    Regarding the question about whether America is still competitive worldwide, I really doubt that any loss in competitiveness is due to a lack of raw engineering talent or interest in innovation. If there is a problem it can be found somewhere in the economics of a particular market. (We can't blame labor rates anymore because so much manufacturing has been off-shored.) I can see how changing corporate cultures might stifle innovation. As companies get older they tend to become more bureaucratic and the sense of excitement at creating new products becomes lost in the process of justifying them to people who may not understand what the engineer is talking about.

  7. eafpres
    April 24, 2013

    Hi Jack–I have the sense that we are far enough into a long slide in our entire education system that we are grooming less talent and creativity on an absolute basis.  I've commented in various places about the education system in China, emphasizing science, math, engineering, and the volume of people moving through their secondary education.  Although criticism of that system for quality is certainly warranted, there are many good institutions producing exceptional entrants into the tech work force.

    What I've noticed as well is that for every hardware job there are 10s of software jobs.  The US has certainly ceded a lot of hardware design to Asia.  This affects the opportunities for graduates, which affects the choices of kids going into college.

  8. Bill_Jaffa
    April 24, 2013

    IMO, we're in big trouble as long as we keep glorifying and giving attention to Hollywood-type celebrities, and ignoring the scientists, engineers etc who make so much of our present society possible,

    Looks at the covers of mainstream publications from the 1950s and 60s–they had scientists, engineers, researchers etc on their covers. Even late-night TV shows had similar on as guests, to talk about what they were doing. You'll never see that now. Now it is almost always a “social” issue or some utterly replaceable celeb, or some star flogging his or her latest movie/TV show/book/scandal.

    It's a matter of misallocated priorities and recognition.

  9. Jack Shandle
    April 24, 2013

    I agree that hardware design has become the handmaiden of software design in the US — and I think this is among the most troubling aspects of all these not-so-recent developments. It echoes the country's pullback from manufacturing, which did not turn out all that well. Unfortunately, these trends are hard to reverse. And of all the “challenges” China is now posing the rest of the world, the one that may have the most impact is the sheer number of engineers it is spinning out of its universities each year. The number of geniuses per 1 million population probably doesn't vary from country and China surely has an edge there – if it can take advantage of it. I have to wonder, however, about how much of that magic ingredient “innovation” can be spun out of a university system of a very top-down-society. Or, how many geniuses will be stifled by thought control. For me, innovation is a byproduct of freedom of thought nurtured a willingness to try and try again. Where we're seeing innovation (software and hardware) now is in the open source movement and it's hard for me to see where that is headed.

  10. Brad Albing
    April 24, 2013

    Not rockets, but I was building the communications gear in my basement for NASA.

  11. Brad Albing
    April 24, 2013

    The analog engineers in the US are still leading the pack, but we are slowly retiring or dying, so in that sense, we will be losing our competitive edge.

  12. Brad Albing
    April 24, 2013

    I had forgotten that Jack Paar and later Johnny Carson actually did have on people with intellect rather than just blond hair and blue eyes.

  13. Scott Elder
    April 24, 2013

    @Brad – On a couch?

  14. Netcrawl
    April 24, 2013

    @Brad you're right! we're retiring or losing our competitive edge, we no longer holds the dominant position in the high technology world. American engineering education is also on decline, we're not paying enough attention to boost our education, American strength lies on its education system, American universities are considered one of the best in the world ouperforming everyone in the field of science and technology.


  15. eafpres
    April 24, 2013

    @Jack–your point is very valid.  I've talked with a variety of pretty good professors in Chinese top level institutes, and they don't really have a well defined path to spin off innovations and commercialize inventions.  That advantage to the US and Europe, if real, is surely temporary.  Eventually they will figure it out.

    I think the US has done a good job linking Universities to the Industrial complex.  There are some problems; elsewhere here I noted their marketing folks (the Universities) tend to overstate and oversell innovations (especially to the trade press, hungry for content).  So you have to de-rate what you read in the media by a safety factor to estimate real commercial potential.  But the connections are there, and ventures are encouraged by most Universities, and many have incubator programs etc.  Those mechanisms do not exist in China for the most part, but surely they will eventually.  We need to fill the funnel back up with our best and brightest learning how to make things not just write code for them.

  16. Jack Shandle
    April 25, 2013

    @eafpfes — It might be interesting to speculate on the reasons young engineers prefer writing software instead of designing circuits – but that's a blog topic for another day. For now, I guess it is enough to say that I agree with your comments and am at pretty much of a loss about what to do to make hardware design more attractive.

  17. eafpres
    April 25, 2013

    @Jack–we are having a discussion on a sister community (The Connecting Edge) about robotics.  I speculate that perhaps this is an area that will attract more bright young stars, and the US can gain a leading position:

    The future is in Robotics

    The explosion of interest in “drone” type bots which are controlled via a wireless link has led to lots of interest in applications of small, mobile robots.  This is more accessible even to the DIY level, and an entire industry has grown up supplying parts to this.  Certainly there is a lot of need for analog in robotics.

  18. Brad Albing
    April 26, 2013

    Exactly. Moved there from the garage.

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