Monday, March 24, 2008

Forrest M. Mims the Third

The book at left is what I found on my desk this morning.

The other week one of the guys in the lab had reason to breadboard an amplifier circuit so I handed him the Op Amp IC Circuits book pictured (o.k., not an actual picture of my book, but my book looks amazingly similar, right down to the brown tinge of the cover).

Forrest M. Mims wrote a series of electronics books for Radioshack in the 80s including Getting Started in Electronics and the Engineer's Mini-Notebook series. I taught myself electronics through his books (at the time, my goal was to build a computer, but we ended up buying one before I ever got close).

And, yes, my books really are 20 years old.

All the books were formatted using handwriting on graph paper, like the following page from the 555 Timer IC Circuits below grabbed from here:

That page brings back memories of many a flashing LED.

On a whim, I googled Mr. Mims. Turns out, he's still very active both in writing and science and has his own Wikipedia page. He is also a creationist (err... maybe intelligent design-ist?) and there was a well-publicised contraversy between him and Scientific American over his beliefs (read more here).

The reason he gets a post on this photography blog is he's done a lot of photographic documentation of science. In particular, I loved his time-lapse movie of frost flowers (apparently, some texas plant emits ribbons of ice when the temperature falls below zero). He's got some other really nice images on his web site, along with plenty of photographic documentation of his projects.

Forrest Mims is a great example of a successful amateur scientist. In my mind, his books are just as relevant today as they were 20 years ago if you are starting out in electronics. You can find them at his commercial site,, and Amazon (below):

1 comment:

Forrest M. Mims III said...

Thanks for the kind comments.

Digital photography and image analysis software are among the most important tools in the amateur scientist's tool kit. Add a microscope, the ability to build simple electronic circuits, and some self disclipline, and most anyone can do sound science, make discoveries and maybe even get published in scientific journals.

Forrest M. Mims III