Open Circuits is a photographic exploration of the beautiful design inside everyday electronics. Its stunning cross-section photography unlocks a hidden world full of elegance, subtle complexity, and wonder.
Our phones, computers, and appliances are made of hundreds of internal components, each precisely engineered to perform a certain function, but none intended to actually be seen. Through painstakingly executed, vividly detailed cross-section photography, Open Circuits reveals the surprising—and often accidental—beauty hiding inside the electronic components that drive our everyday devices.
From resistors to LEDs, USB cables to headphone jacks, stepper motors to nixie tubes, the book’s arresting imagery transforms more than 130 components into delightful works of art. As you visually dissect the components’ insides, you’ll learn about how they work and how they were made. Open Circuits has something for everyone to appreciate, whether you’re a seasoned electrical engineer, an amateur tinkerer, or simply a lover of art and photography.
Eric Schlaepfer runs the popular engineering Twitter account @TubeTimeUS, where he posts cross-section photos, discusses retrocomputing and reverse engineering, and investigates engineering accidents. Some of his better-known projects include the MOnSter 6502 (the world’s largest 6502 microprocessor, made out of individual transistors) and the Snark Barker (a retro recreation of the famous Sound Blaster sound card).
Windell H. Oskay is the co-founder of Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories, where he designs robots. A longtime photographer, he holds a B.A. in Physics and Mathematics from Lake Forest College and a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of The Annotated Build-It-Yourself Science Laboratory.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Passive Components
Chapter 2: Semiconductors
Chapter 3: Electromechanics
Chapter 4: Cables and Connectors
Chapter 5: Retro Tech
Chapter 6: Composite Devices
Afterword: Creating Cross Sections
Check out the authors' interview on The Amp Hour podcast!
"This book made me fall in love with electronics all over again . . . Part history book, part coffee-table book, and part journey into the inner lives of the electronics, [Open Circuits] is a fascinating journey through the history of electronics."
—Haje Jan Kamps, TechCrunch
"Its stunning cross-section photography unlocks a hidden world full of elegance, subtle complexity, and wonder. . . . Open Circuits has something for everyone to appreciate, whether you’re a seasoned electrical engineer, an amateur tinkerer, or simply a lover of art and photography."
—Lee Goldberg, Electronic Design
"Excellent pictures of the world's most interesting objects with clear, accessible explanations."
—Trevor Blackwell, Founder of Anybots
"Every page is a new discovery."
"Many of us take our electronics components for granted, using LEDs and capacitors without knowing what, exactly, is inside the hard outer shells. This stunningly beautiful book is a detailed look at the inner workings of a variety of semiconductors, sensors, electromechanics and more. While the component images stand alone as works of art, authors Schlaepfer and Oskay pair the pictures with clear and informative text that adds to the reader's knowledge of the circuitry they are looking at. This book is sure to be a staple in many makers, educators, and engineers libraries."
—Professor AnnMarie Thomas, University of St. Thomas, School of Engineering
"While it will definitely be a 'geek coffee table book' for me, I would very much have appreciated it when I was 12 years old and first getting into electronics."
—Mark Eichin, Senior Software Developer at RightHand Robotics
"A celebration of the electronic aesthetic . . . blur[s] the line between engineering and art."
—Andrew "bunnie" Huang, Author of The Hardware Hacker and Hacking the Xbox
"This is the coolest book I've seen in years. Fascinating look inside hundreds of circuits, switches, and mechanical electronic devices that I've never seen before."
—Jeff Geerling, @geerlingguy, Author of Ansible for DevOps
"What an awesome book! A rare breed of technical content that is appreciable by experts and novices alike."
—Chris Lafky, @fluxotronlabs, Electrical Engineer
"Without a doubt, the most beautiful electronics book!"
—Ben Krasnow, @BenKrasnow, YouTuber at Applied Science
“An eye-catching and educational coffee table tome.”
—Gareth Halfacree, Hackster.io