Many Tape Op readers like to tear apart gear, solder, and build things. This book is for all of you (us). Actually, anyone who is interested in a well-written, easy-to-understand explanation of electronics should consider this book. Author Hans Camenzind is a Swiss-born electrical engineer who designed the first integrated Class D amplifier, introduced the phase-locked loop concept to ICs, and according to Wikipedia, holds at least twenty US patents. But this book isn't a technical treatise. Much Ado About Almost Nothing is a straightforward, dare I say fun, history of our investigation into electricity and electronics. Presented chronologically, Camenzind profiles dozens of individuals who have chased the electron. All of the household names are here: Franklin, Faraday, Morse, Bell, Tesla, Edison, etc. But there are many lesser-known, yet equally fascinating stories. For example, Wilhelm Schickard, a professor of Biblical language, built the first gear/mechanical calculator in 1623, but the bubonic plague cut his career and his invention's future short. John Baird built a TV set in his attic in 1923-years before RCA-but lacking the marketing power (and business acumen) of the larger company, he went bust. Looking back, with the knowledge we currently have, it's both amazing and hysterical to view the experiments some of these men conducted. The number of times divine gestalts occurred is equal to the number of times people were almost killed or maimed by their own curiosity.
Many of the fun things we studio types love are discussed-vacuum tubes, silicon, germanium, photo-luminescent panels, field-effect transistors, AM and FM radio (remember those?)-and the list goes on. Whether you want to avoid being a member of the moronic masses, who without understanding, post babble on the various Internet discussion boards, or just want to learn the origin of the term "Baffoon!", this book is a great investment of time and resources. ($14.95 MSRP; booklocker.com
Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.