Looking back on electronic design

Looking back on electronic design

This article is part of Electronic Design 70th Anniversary Series.

What you will learn:

  • The third stage of an engineering career.
  • How to keep up to date.
  • What you might be missing out on.

I remember the first time I found out Electronic design magazine. I was a young engineer fresh out of college working for a government subcontractor in Houston. My job was to support the company’s telemetry equipment, mainly in the White Sands missile range.

One afternoon, I was exploring my new office space and I found a stack of AND magazines on a shelf. They were an odd size, not the usual 8-1 / 2 × 11 inches. format. These were squares, more like 11 × 11 inc. I spent the afternoon examining them. Wow, I have discovered a treasure trove of information!

The magazines were filled with a lot of good articles on how to design things. And this was not what they taught us in school. A lot of theory and math, but little practical practice.

I remember another young engineer saying, “Lou, I need to design a small amplifier and I know how to do it, but what transistor do I use?” (another thing we didn’t learn in school). Reading current magazines, you see a lot of circuits and after a while you often realize that particular types of transistors or integrated circuits are used over and over again. So, grab one of those or ask your parts manager what the company has on hand.

Early Days of Electronic Design Magazine

However, the AND issues covered the latest industry news and included a very popular feature called Ideas for Design (IFD). Readers posted their smart circuits using simple common parts. There weren’t many ICs available at the time, so these circuits were great for starting a project when you don’t know where to start.

I also remember that there were a lot of announcements. I suddenly figured out where to find the parts I needed to make my designs. I wonder if the ads are actually the most important part of the magazine. How else do you know where to find a particular capacitor, transistor, or test tool?

Oh yeah, remember those stamped insert cards that were bound in every issue? “Bingo” cards. You have drawn a circle around the number corresponding to the advertisers you wish to receive information from. And voila, within a few weeks you have received your information in the mail or from your local representative. Another part of learning engineering.

The rep was the seller who brought you the latest catalogs, datasheets, app notes, or a free sample of the part. A few repetitions even left you with a handshake and your hand smelled like the male cologne that was popular back then.

Other magazine inserts asked you to subscribe to the magazine. And, of course, I did. After all, it was free. How good could it be? A magazine that provides all of these resources for free.

Stay on the course in paper and electronic format

As it turns out, Electronic design continue to provide all or part of it for free. No more bingo cards; you have to go to the internet to get most of the content today. Fortunately, AND is one of the few trade magazines to still offer a print version. To date, many readers prefer print.

The magazine is one of the best resources for an engineer. It provides a link to almost everything you need to get your job done. It constitutes the third stage of an engineer’s education and skills: college theory and mathematics, about work experience, and connecting the magazine to an incredible array of design data, news, advertising and inspiration. The magazine is how you keep up to date with the latest technology, parts and competition. AND also supports supplier webinars.

However, many engineers do not subscribe to such publications because they claim that everything they need to know can be found on the Internet. Obviously….

I would like all EE students to be able to take out a subscription Electronic design. Such publications fill gaps in university education. Nobody figured out how to give a college student a free magazine.

Electronic design it has helped my career a lot and I say thank you for the practical education I needed at that time.

Read other articles in Electronic Design 70th Anniversary Series.

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