Ah, I wish I'd found this book two years ago. Back then, when I just started working as an EE, the benefit I could gain from the book would be huge. Today, knowing at least 90% of what is has to say, I'm still very much impressed. Mark Balch takes a unifying approach I haven't seen in other books. Deciding to focus on the complete spectrum of digital/electronic design is a great decision, since most of the books out there either pay attention only to logic and assembly or only to leakage currents in diodes and bode plots of filters. Often, an EE has to work closely with both worlds, which is what the author of this book understood and filled 460 pages with valuable information. On one hand this book teaches digital logic (with nice practical aspects, for example the 7400 family), computer architecture, memory, communications (with a great section explaining all the nuts-and-bolts of the omnipresent RS232/422/485 family of standards), networking, state machines, FPGAs and CPLDs. On the other hand, it doesn't neglect the low level stuff. A good overview of basic electronics is given, including information on diodes, transistors, op-amps and ADC/DACs. It doesn't stop there and discusses the practical aspects of design I haven't seen described in other (non-textbook) books - clock distribution, power regulation/distribution, signal integrity and various debugging techniques. What I liked especially is that the author doesn't get into the topics too deep - there's textbooks and data-sheets for that. He gives theory when needed, focuses on the practicals and refers to other sources of information. In particular, the section that explains how to read data-sheets and what to pay attention to while reading is a gold-mine for young engineers. I think this book can be very useful for fresh engineers - to get quickly informed of the wide spectrum of design practices or even for students of EE - to see the bigger picture. To seasoned professionals it won't provide much new knowledge.

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