Lessons from popular electronics magazines and books : Page 2 of 6

January 03, 2017 // By Peter Clarke
Dennis Feucht considers that publishers from the 1950s and 1960s that bridged the gaps between hobbyist, technician and engineer provided, and can still can provide, great service but that finding their like and quality on the Internet can be challenging.

The Web has replaced the magazine racks in the local stores. There is much superficial technical information on the Web and it takes some searching to find good websites. Few, if any, provide the quality and extent of content found in books or even single issues of some magazines. Books are also available through the Web, though it is difficult to gain any real appreciation over the Web for their content. America’s largest new and used technical bookstore, until its recent absorption into the main store, was Powell’s Technical Bookstore in Portland, Oregon, a convenient location for those in the Silicon Forest of Tektronix, ESI, Intel, Audio Precision, Mentor Graphics, OECO, and other electronics companies in the area.

Perusing the Web cannot match the experience of standing for hours among row after row of interesting engineering books, perusing them and occasionally becoming deeply absorbed in their pages. One might enter the store in bright daylight and eventually leave in the dark with a box of purchased and give-away books, wondering where the car was parked and whether it would have a parking ticket on it. The occasional trip to the bookstore would result in a great intellectual boost at modest financial impoverishment. Engineers have been known to spend hundreds of dollars per visit. The unmarried engineer who persists among the shelves too long might also incur the additional cost of dinner in town. The vast personal libraries of some engineers can even hamper their move to a different house.

After World War II, technician training literature of the U.S. Navy found its way into general circulation through John F. Rider, by 1955 a division of Hayden Publishing Company. Rider published a Basic Electronics series as used by Navy specialty schools. The nondescript author was a corporation: Van Valkenburgh, Nooger, and Neville Inc. Volume 4, for instance, covers transmitters, class-C amplifiers, frequency multipliers, transmission lines, antennas, and CW and AM modulation. The pages are about half text, half black-and-white illustrations, drawn navy-style. An example is shown below from Volume 4, No. 170-4, pages 4-68, 4-69.)