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first printed circuit? e-book?


ex William Snow Harris (1791-1867), Observations on the effects of lightning on floating bodies : with an account of a new method of applying fixed and continuous conductors of electricity to the masts of ships. London, 1823

MIT copy: permalink; image taken (and corrected for distortion) from MIT location here (scroll down), and shown here with permission.

In the same author’s  A series of papers on the defence of ships and buildings from lightning (1835) — also at MIT [ catalogue entry here ] — we find this printer statement in the colophon:

An experimental illustration of this reasoning is here annexed: the gold leaf on the accompanying paper was originally perfect throughout; a powerful discharge of electricity has been passed over the gold, from the top to the bottom, in order to show by its oxidation the course of the electric matter.

This volume appears to have interested the contemporary artist Marco Breuer as well; see his book Tremors (2000, co-authored with James Elkins). Elkins describes the encounter in his Six Stories from the End of Representation: Images in Painting, Photography, Astronomy, Microscopy, Particle Physics, and Quantum Mechanics, 1980-2000 (2008).

William Snow Harris is treated in wikipedia. One learns that his lightning rod apparatus (known as Harris conductors) was trialed on the Beagle, and highly approved by Captain Robert FitzRoy; Darwin too was much impressed by Harris.

7 May 2012
tags: lightning, printed circuits