The Art Of Electronics, Third Edition

For any technical domain, there is usually one book held up above all others as the definitive guide. For anyone learning compilers, it’s the dragon book. For general computer science, it’s the first half of [Knuth]’s The Art of Computer Programming. For anyone beginning their studies of electrons and silicon, it’s [Horowitz & Hill]’s The Art of Electronics. This heady tome has graced workbenches and labs the world over and is the definitive resource for anything electronica. The first edition was published in 1980, and the second edition was published in 1989. Now, finally, the third edition is on its way.

The new edition will be released on April 30, 2015 through Cambridge University Press, Amazon, and Adafruit. In fact, [PT] over at Adafruit first announced the new edition on last night’s Ask An Engineer show. [Ladyada] was actually asked to provide a quote for the cover of the new edition, an incredible honor that she is far too humble about.

The latest edition is about 300 pages longer than the second edition. It is thoroughly revised and updated, but still retains the casual charm of the original. Real copies do not exist yet, and the only critical review we have so far is from [Ladyada]. There will be few surprises or disappointments.

80 thoughts on “The Art Of Electronics, Third Edition

  1. As one of the lucky chosen few who already own both The Text and The Student Manual (2nd Edition) I am deeply excited by this news.

    I can’t remotely afford / justify it at the moment so I’ll wait a while and save my pennies. I’m eager to find out the spectrum of modern tech that the new edition covers and in how much detail it delves, and how much is carried forward from the previous book.

    I’ll probably still hold on to my 2E copies just in case though :)

    1. Me too. One of those purchases I’ve never regretted.
      I still refer to the book and greatly admire the author’s writing style. It’s hard to take a technical subject and make it readable.

      1. 108 USD on Amazon. 120 USD on Adafruit but the Wednesday 10% off code would make it the same. I usually find Adafruit prices to be competitive. I fail to see why wouldn’t you buy a book from them.

        1. Plus you’re supporting the company. I like Adafruit, so I wouldn’t mind paying a little more to purchase it from them. Same reason I often purchase products from Sparkfun when I can find them cheaper elsewhere.

    1. I agree with you on price and was equally deterred on a book I have in pirate pdf but desperately wanted in print.

      I was thrilled to find a copy form India on Abebooks for about $40 US(cheapest for a US version for me was $85.) It said it was hard back when it was a paperback but other than that it is everything I had hoped for.

      Just a quick tip Keep an eye out for non-US/non-UK versions for huge savings.

  2. >> Getting used that any decent book is always over 100€, or compared to my country minimum wage, 25%(a bit more in fact..)

    think of it this way… your trading one quarter of your productive output up front, to save however many wholes of productive output debugging inefficient, faulty design :)

    1. Give it a few months and someone should digitize the book. Unless the only people buying it readily are upstanding citizens, or can’t be bothered to scan every page of this tome.

      1. Don’t know about you but I find digitized books painful to read, and I’m talking about well made probably original PDFs with searchable text, not those awful scanned copies. Yes, they’re good for reference and I use them as such but for actual reading nothing beats the dead tree edition. Unfortunately all affordable e-ink readers are slow as hell with technical books (pictures, schematics, diagrams etc) and tablets or laptops are unreadable in the light. I will probably buy one of the legit but still low cost editions from the far East as I did with the 2nd Ed. The Adafruit price is a theft and the Amazon one very close to it.

  3. For years (>15) I’ve though it would be a good addition to the library, but I could never justify the money in that I had no immediate need for it. About four months ago, I thought, eh, what the hell, and bought a brand new copy.

    Everybody needs to thank me for triggering the release of the new edition.

    1. This book is a good starting point if you are in the stages of not knowing how to implement things and blindly apply “arduino” to every problems. Once you know enough or work professionally in electronics for a few years, then you would soon outgrow this book.

      These days I found the old math intensive text books more useful as reference material. There are web stuff, but they are either geared towards beginners or too advance or behind a pay wall.

      1. +1 Not very deep but mighty handy in the undergrad lab. I don’t get the Adafruit connection. The Art and Fashion of Electronics? Will there be analysis of costumes and “COSPLAY” (whatever that is)? Getting too old I guess.

    1. “Horowitz was one of the pioneers of the search of intelligent life beyond the Earth, and one of the leaders behind SETI.”

      “Winfield Hill – A self-proclaimed “electronics circuit-design guru”

      ” [Ladyada] was actually asked to provide a quote for the cover of the new edition”

      Nevermind, a little research tells me this books IS full of shit.

      1. its an industry standard, this book (and the authors are well respected).

        lady ada, well, she’s a newcomer and its kind of insulting, to be honest, to have her at all associated with the book. I have bought adafruit stuff before and I respect the company, but they are NOT gurus (not even close) and they don’t belong in scholarly works like H&H. oh well.

        1. My thougts exactly. I like Lady Ada and her crew and what they’re doing for making electronics more interesting and available to people. But they are Arduino people with good knowledge in programming, but limited knowledge in electronics, especially analog stuff. Dave Jones (EEVBlog) would be much better choice for that quote, as he is guy with very extensive knowledge and great electronics engineer.

          1. Take it easy, folks…

            Ladyada (and Sparkfun and their likes) is doing a lot to make electronics (of the tweak-it-yourself kind) popular. Kinda the “Radio Shack” of the 2010s. And this is a *big* achievement, in a time where people is buying aps that transform their smartphone into a flashlight.

            They not only sell gadgets, but they make big efforts documenting how things work and giving people easy ramps to get “into”.

            So connecting this classic with Ladyada is genius: it’s building bridges. I’m all for it.

      2. In my mind if you don’t know who Horowitz and Hill are and you claim to know electronics you are the one full of shit. Lady Ada may never reach the acclaim of H&H who taught previous generations how to design electronics but she is a very qualified engineer who is working to bring electronics to a world of people who may never pick up a soldering iron otherwise. That being said anyone who isnt jealous of the privilege of a cover quote or any mention at all in the new version of The Art of Electronics is a liar and a thief.

      1. Exactly. I struggled through 2 years of EE, waiting for the practical information that would compliment the amount of hands-on professional electronic work under my belt. Then a friend in physics took a half-term electronics course and they used this book. Eureka.

        It’s still on my shelf, after 20 years. Too busy working, programming and hacking to finish that EE degree…

  4. there are pdfs (of the older edition) out there. some kind of bay or something, I forget…

    if the price was reasonable, I’d buy the current book in pdf (searchable, no drm!) form. if its drm’d, then I have zero interest.

    buying paper books is a non-starter for me, now, though. need them to be greppable.

      1. So Brian gets to make up whatever he wants in his “articles” but the actual readers have to fear the mighty moderator for stating their opinion?

        You might have noticed, this Mike guy isn’t the first to have this opinion.

    1. Eh, it’s just marketing dude. How can H&H move more units? Get a current popular figure in the electronics industry to vouch for it, slap it on the cover, and then budding would-be EEs all over can pick up a copy and advance themselves past Arduino. Sounds like a win-win for everyone. Who is being insulted here, anyways? You? Chill out.

    2. I think its also because of the recent push for “women in engineering”. Having a woman engineer quote on the back of a reputed electronics book goes a long way into motivating the girls to get into engineering.

  5. Yeah!!!

    I was just reading the 2nd edition a few days ago and wondering if the authors could be induced to do an update. Far too many devices that have become pure unobtainium and many new things. 26 years is a long time in electronics and it’s a lot of work to find identify good devices.

    As for anyone skeptical of the value of H&H, they either aren’t interested in instrumentation or haven’t read the book. The intended audience is physicists and engineers building things no one has ever done before. It is NOT for people who think controlling a string of RGB LEDs is a technical accomplishment. It’s for people who want to measure things that are difficult to measure and intend to spend their entire lives doing it. It’s useful for more general readers, but that’s the target audience.

    A very good related book is:

    Building Scientific Apparatus
    Moore, Davis & Coplan

    1. I remember exchanging emails with one of the authors around 15 years ago. He was working on the next edition back then, but couldn’t say when it would be released. I figured it had to do something with making sure no one got stuck with buying the current edition shortly before the new one came out. Or having current edition stocks go stale on bookstore shelves as buyers wait for the new edition.

  6. I have the original H&H, which was pretty useful. The first student manual came out later and was pretty poor. I hope the newer versions are a lot better.

    In the late 70’s I found a really great book, for the time anyway. I recently found there was a 1980 2nd edition and it is still darn good. Check Alibris and Amazon for used copies of “How to Build and Use Electronic Devices without Frustration, Panic, Mountains of Money, or an Engineering Degree” by Stuart Hoenig. Cheap, and you won’t be sorry – if you can find one.

    1. I had a copy of this book from the 70s. Once I had H&H, I searched in vain for useful insights in “How to Build…”. Didn’t find anything in it that wasn’t better and more clearly explained in H&H. Search for it? Don’t bother. Just get H&H, IMHO.

  7. Seems to me that having LadyAda involved is a (possibly cynical) way to attempt to increase the book’s appeal to the hacker/maker community. It’s hardly “insulting”, it’s just marketing. Not worth getting angry about.

    Personally I think Dave Jones would have been a more suitable choice given his experience in electronics and his popularity in the hacker domain.

    1. A Dave Jones forward would take an hour to read and be a description of random book pages with complaints that the background material for that page isn’t …..oh there it is. On the previous page! This book uses the standard black print on white paper. I’m not sure what kind of ink it has but we could probably check with the manufacturer. I wonder what will happen if I hit that delete key while I’m typing thi oh, that is what it does. That seems dangerous. They could have hidden the delete a little better. But I’m rambling now :-)

  8. I’ve been tinkering with electronics since 1987. Today, I have a Masters of EE, I work as an embedded programmer, I have designed dozens of boards for multiple companies, and for personal projects, even been featured on hack-a-day beta.

    I have never heard of this book.

    I’m not sure what it could teach me after all this time, but with all the hubbub surrounding it, I may need to find one in a bookstore and have a look, maybe there is something I am missing.

    In the interim, can anyone shed some light on what is actually inside of it that makes it so well revered?

    1. its basically the book everyone recommends when you start off in EE , at least thats what it it was for me and the people i’ve chatted with about it over the years, Its one of those bible books everyone gets, but i have a feeling most people buy it , scan it and leave it on the bookshelf. I’ve yet to see a dog eared copy of it. It’s a bit dryly written, but for its time it was packed full of info. the student manual is pretty poor.

      reminds me of duke nukem forever, its been promised for so long for the 3rd edition, it became a legend.

      it definitely was a good book

    2. Remember how your first courses started with chapter after chapter of Kirchhoff and Thevenin and loop laws and DC circuit analysis? Then the AC circuit analysis with complex numbers? Inductors and diodes. And the course finished with the Ebers-Moll transistor equations and a thorough breakdown of the Emitter Follower?

      That is the first 70 pages of H&H. The rest is practical applications – most of it pretty good if you don’t need really high speed or very low current detection – and aimed at making instrumentation. Even Gyrators, photomultipliers, RF, etc. and nice sections on bad circuit choices. Parts are a lot like the National Semi Analog App-Note collections of the 1970’s that were so great.

      I will assume the new one has some Arduino style stuff that won’t be too quickly dated and WIFI, CCD and CMOS detectors for imaging and scanning and astronomy and all that. I would hope it integrates some ideas about 3D or other fab methods for making instruments. Maybe something on open source design and emulation tools The 1st edition is 1150 pages. Did it say 300 have been added? Yipe! Three volumes would be a lot easier to use. I hope they have kept their standard schematic style and not done something crazy like adopt the awful and endemic Eagle style.

      No substitute for Irwin, but it gets people out of the starting gate a lot sooner and raises the enthusiasm for the subject.

  9. I think HackADay should get a pre-order copy and review its worthiness for all of us questioning its worth. I for one hate to drop 80-100$ if whats in it can be found online or in one of the myriad of other old EE books I have (note very old). If the extra 300 pages is all on Arduinos, BeagleBones, Raspi’s – I’d have to pass though.

  10. AoE 2nd Ed is an awesome book. There is a brilliance and an experience that set it far apart from anything else I’ve seen. Beloved of physics students and occasionally reviled by EE students, examples are illustrated by neurological amplifiers, piezo drivers and photomultiplier discriminators. Ironing out myths of FETs versus BJTs. Bandwidth narrowing as a route to noise reduction mentions lock in amplifiers synced to neutron stars and mossbaur spectroscopy. 2nd Ed is now a little dated but for me only has 1 flaw. The theory of BJTs needs explaining in a way that doesn’t involve a tiny man inside each transistor. For a book with a physics lean this is embarrassingly bad. If transistor man is in 3rd Ed there will be rioting in the streets.

  11. So really, anything by Forrest Mims III, like his project notebooks would probably be better suited for most people here to learn electronics (if not a little basic for people that already have a decent understanding of practical electronics) and you’d save a lot of cash to boot… Plus a lot of what’s there isn’t going anywhere any time soon. It’s foundation type stuff using parts that have been around and are still around.

    A book with a bunch of pricey Burr Brown and Analog Devices stuff that is no longer made is kind of pointless.

  12. I have it – the precious!

    Pre-ordered direct from Cambridge University Press, and delivered to me today 27th March (I live only a few miles from Cambridge, UK).

    I suppose I ought to read it, rather than just covet it.

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