Analog Computing Bookshelf

Classic Texts

Granino Korn worked for Sperry Gyroscope, Lockheed, and the University of Arizona. He and his wife Theresa wrote one of the first books on analog computing [1], which became the classic text and evolved through several editions and revisions. Thomas Truitt and Alan Rogers, both of Electronic Associates, Inc. (EAI), wrote a popular introductory book [2], covering basic material for the new user (and potential customer). Their book is packed with pictures, diagrams, and cartoons. Other early books include those by Clarence Johnson at the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology [3], Albert Jackson at Control Technology, Inc. [4], and Robert Howe at the University of Michigan [5]. The Computer Handbook, edited by Korn and Harry Huskey [6], contains a wealth of technical details contributed by a variety of researchers that were active in the field.

UCLA professor Walter Karplus wrote the definitive textbook on the application of analog computers to field problems [7]. Karplus also coauthored books on high-speed (repetitive) computers [8], general analog methods [9], and hybrid analog-digital computers [10]. After Karplus passed away in 2001, George Bekey and Boris Kogan (interviewed in this issue) organized a conference in his memory. The proceedings [11] includes several tributes.

As the field of hybrid computation developed, Korn and Korn updated their popular text to include hybrid computers [12]. In addition, the well-known book by Bekey and Karplus [10] provides a discussion of hybrid techniques and components, as well as eight chapters on applications, including a chapter on flight simulation by Robert Howe.

The McGraw-Hill Series

In the late 1950s and 1960s, McGraw-Hill published the McGraw-Hill Series in Information Processing and Computers. Although most of the books in the series cover digital-computing topics, the early volumes include several analog books, such as the aforementioned text by Karplus [7]. Rogers (of EAI) and T.W. Connolly (of Sperry Gyroscope) wrote a book on industrial applications [13]. The text by Leon Levine [14] emphasizes problem solving. Oddly, the half-analog, half-digital book by Norman Scott [15] makes no mention of hybrid computers.

Secondary Sources for History

Interest in the history of a field is a sign of the field's maturity [16][17]. While the field of analog computing was overtaken by digital computing, and thus never reached maturity in its own time, the appreciation of its importance to the development of computing and control has matured over the past two dozen years. Several resources are recommended for further research.

Articles in the IEEE Annals of the History of Computing have covered many related topics, including Philbrick's first process simulator [18], gun-director development at Bell Labs [19], and Helmut Hoelzer's analog machines in Germany [20]. In addition, two special issues of the Annals, in 1993 (vol. 15, no. 2) and 1996 (vol. 18, no. 4), are dedicated to analog computers. The 1993 issue includes three articles, covering general-purpose electronic analog computers, mechanical computers for the US Navy, and an electrical analog model built by Westinghouse. The 1996 issue contains six articles, with extensive coverage of mechanical differential analyzers around the world.

More recently, James Small's book [21], covers the development and commercialization of electronic analog computers in the United States and Britain. He covers the heyday of analog computing in the postwar period and fully refutes the notion that analog computers were a ``failed technology.'' David Mindell's book [22] focuses on the development of control systems for gun directors in WWII, which he traces back to the analog-computing efforts of Vannevar Bush, Bell Labs, and Sperry Gyroscope. Reviews of Small's book and Midell's book appear in the August 2003 issue of the IEEE Control Systems Magazine [23][24].

Primary references on analog computing can be found in the original journals, of course, and also in two noteworthy collections. MIT Professor Henry Paynter collected papers, including several of historical interest, for a palimpsest [25] published by George A. Philbrick Researches. (Paynter gave a keynote address on the history of analog computing at the 1989 American Control Conference, the text of which was printed in the December 1989 issue of the IEEE Control Systems Magazine [26].) John McLeod edited a collection of articles [27] from the journal Simulation, which includes a forward by Korn and papers by Ragazzini, Howe, Rogers, Karplus, Bekey, and many others.

The original, classic op-amp manual from Philbrick [28] was recently republished online by Analog Devices, Inc. [29]. It contains a wealth of applications information from the early days of op-amp use. Finally, Doug Coward's web site, the ``Analog Computer Museum and History Center'' [30], includes numerous pictures of vintage machines and an extensive bibliography of books, manuals, and technical reports.


Analog Computing Bookshelf. These books are some of the classics of analog computing. From left to right: Korn and Korn [1], Truitt and Rogers [2], Johnson [3], Jackson [4], Howe [5], Huskey and Korn, [6], Karplus [7], Tomovic and Karplus [8], Karplus and Soroka [9], Bekey and Karplus [10], Korn and Korn [12], Rogers and Connolly [13], Levine [14], Scott [15], Small [21], and Mindell [22].


  1. G. A. Korn and T. M. Korn, Electronic Analog Computers. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1952.

  2. T. D. Truitt and A. E. Rogers, Basics of Analog Computers. New York: Rider, 1960.

  3. C. L. Johnson, Analog Computer Techniques. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1956.

  4. A. S. Jackson, Analog Computation. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1960.

  5. R. M. Howe, Design Fundamentals of Analog Computer Components. Princeton: Van Nostrand, 1961.

  6. H. D. Huskey and G. A. Korn, Eds., Computer Handbook. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1962.

  7. W. J. Karplus, Analog Simulation: Solution of Field Problems. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1958.

  8. R. Tomovic and W. J. Karplus, High-Speed Analog Computers. New York: Wiley, 1962.

  9. W. J. Karplus and W. W. Soroka, Analog Methods: Computation and Simulation, 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1959.

  10. G. A. Bekey and W. J. Karplus, Hybrid Computation. New York: Wiley, 1968.

  11. G. A. Bekey and B. Y. Kogan, Modeling and Simulation: Theory and Practice. Boston: Kluwer, 2003.

  12. G. A. Korn and T. M. Korn, Electronic Analog and Hybrid Computers. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964.

  13. A. E. Rogers and T. W. Connolly, Analog Computation in Engineering Design. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1960.

  14. L. Levine, Methods for Solving Engineering Problems Using Analog Computers. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964.

  15. N. R. Scott, Analog and Digital Computer Technology. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1960.

  16. S. Bennett, A History of Control Engineering 1800--1930, ser. IEE Control Engineering Series. Stevenage, UK: Peter Peregrinus, 1979.

  17. C. C. Bissell, "Secondary sources for the history of control engineering: an annotated bibliography," Int. J. Control, vol. 54, no. 3, pp. 517--528, 1991.

  18. P. A. Holst, "George A. Philbrick and Polyphemus --- The first electronic training simulator,'' Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 143--156, Apr. 1982.

  19. W. H. C. Higgins, B. D. Holbrook, and J. W. Emling, "Defense research at Bell Laboratories: Electrical computers for fire contol," Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 218--236, July 1982.

  20. J. E. Tomayko, "Helmut Hoelzer's fully electronic analog computer," Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 227--240, July 1985.

  21. J. S. Small, The Analogue Alternative: The Electronic Analogue Computer in Britain and the USA, 1930--1975. London: Routledge, 2001.

  22. D. A. Mindell, Between Human and Machine: Feedback, Control, and Computing Before Cybernetics. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002.

  23. C. C. Bissell, "Bookshelf: The Analog Alternative by James S. Small (book review)," IEEE Control Systems Magazine, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 91--92, Aug. 2003.

  24. D. L. Elliott," Bookshelf: Between Human and Machine: Feedback, Control, and Computing Before Cybernetics by David A. Mindell (book review)," IEEE Control Systems Magazine, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 92--93, Aug. 2003.

  25. H. M. Paynter, Ed., A Palimpsest on the Electronic Analog Art. Boston: George A. Philbrick Researches, 1955.

  26. H. M. Paynter, "The differential analyzer as an active mathematical instrument," IEEE Control Systems Magazine, vol. 9, no. 7, pp. 3--8, Dec. 1989.

  27. J. McLeod, Ed., Simulation: The Dynamic Modeling of Ideas and Systems with Computers. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1968.

  28. D. H. Sheingold, Ed., Applications Manual for Operational Amplifiers for Modeling, Measuring, Manipulating, and Much Else. Boston: George A. Philbrick Researches, 1965.

  29. D. H. Sheingold, Ed., Applications Manual for Computing Amplifiers for Modeling, Measuring, Manipulating, and Much Else. Norwood: Analog Devices, 1998, 2004. [Online]. Available:

  30. D. Coward, "Analog computer museum and history center." [Online]. Available:


Originally published in Kent H. Lundberg. "History of Analog Computing." IEEE Control Systems Magazine, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 22--28, June 2005.

Kent H Lundberg
November 2010.