Classic Circuits Are Revived as DIY Art

Star Simpson’s circuit boards honor engineering legend Forrest M. Mims

2 min read
Photo of Star Simpson
Photo: Adafruit Industries

There are few authors whose handwriting is as well known as that of Forrest M. Mims. Many American engineers have vivid memories of his Mini-Notebooks and his larger work, Getting Started in Electronics. Initially sold in the 1970s only through RadioShack stores (where several titles can still be bought today), these books featured hand-drawn circuit diagrams of educational or interesting projects alongside hand-lettered explanations.

Mims’s folksy format did much to make electronics feel unintimidating. At the same time, his books gently cemented into readers’ minds what a properly drawn circuit should look like when the time came for them to take up the pencil.

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How the Graphical User Interface Was Invented

Three decades of UI research came together in the mice, windows, and icons used today

18 min read
Stylized drawing of a desktop computer with mouse and keyboard, on the screen are windows, Icons, and menus
Getty Images/IEEE Spectrum

Mice, windows, icons, and menus: these are the ingredients of computer interfaces designed to be easy to grasp, simplicity itself to use, and straightforward to describe. The mouse is a pointer. Windows divide up the screen. Icons symbolize application programs and data. Menus list choices of action.

But the development of today’s graphical user interface was anything but simple. It took some 30 years of effort by engineers and computer scientists in universities, government laboratories, and corporate research groups, piggybacking on each other’s work, trying new ideas, repeating each other’s mistakes.

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