Throughout my childhood, I grew up learning about electronics and computers. I am starting to get to the point where I want to incorporate my knowledge of both into a single project. I have tried using Arduinos and Raspberry Pis, but find myself in the usual scenario where I want to re-invent the wheel myself. Where is the best place that I can go to get the most comprehensive knowledge base about how computers, both old-school 4-bit and modern 86 and 64-bit machines work? Looking around, I have not really found much of what I was looking for. Projects like Big Mess O' Wires' custom 4-bit CPU and other projects where people made a computer on a breadboard and stuck linux on it are of the most interest, however things like USB interfacing, LCD/LED displays and touch input would be great too!

Thanks in advance,


  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Go to university and study electrical and/or computer systems engineering. \$\endgroup\$
    – markt
    Jan 5, 2015 at 4:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @markt Thank you for your response! I plan on doing that. However, I am a junior in High School right now. I take a vocational class, but we don't expand much our of Arduinos in my Electrical Engineering class. I was looking more for books and websites. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim Powell
    Jan 5, 2015 at 4:41
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ One thing that I've noticed about people who "teach themselves" electronics is that they always have holes and blind spots in their knowledge. Studying a structured course designed and run by qualified people ensures that those holes never form, possibly because you don't get to ignore the things that you don't like and classify as "unimportant". If you really want to start somewhere though, start with a good grounding in calculus. Mathematics is the language of the universe. \$\endgroup\$
    – markt
    Jan 5, 2015 at 5:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ MIT is quite well thought of... \$\endgroup\$
    – The Photon
    Jan 5, 2015 at 5:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is no singular source for all that information. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 5, 2015 at 6:44

2 Answers 2


The reason there isn't much information online about it is because:

  1. People who have knowledge of this do not have knowledge on how to make websites, and probably do not have time/interest to run a blog on an existing CMS site. They'd much rather do what they're good at, which is to design computer/IC architecture.
  2. This gets REALLY in depth. Companies like Qualcomm have 40,000 employees and the vast majority are engineers working on very few ASICs. You can find some information online but you will only scratch the surface.
  3. You're quite interested in this, which is good, go to a good university for an ECE degree because this is something that needs to be learned in a structured way and not something you can fully teach yourself. If you REALLY want to start now, perhaps you'll have to get your hands on university-level textbooks. A good textbook from my own program was Microelectronic Circuits by Sedra/Smith. You can also look for textbooks with keywords such as: analog design, digital design, ASIC, IC, computer architecture.

Hope that's enough to get you started. It's great that you have interest at such an age, but you should take this one step at a time and learn the basics because a firm grasp of the basics will allow you to snowball your learning of advanced topics.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't know if Microelectronic Circuits is really a great first step. I think OP needs to learn how circuits work (not Arduino! real circuits). \$\endgroup\$
    – Catsunami
    Apr 27, 2016 at 17:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Microelectronic Circuits by Sedra/Smith doesn't teach anything about Arduino. It's an academic textbook which teaches you basics and fundamentals of circuit design. \$\endgroup\$
    – PGT
    Apr 27, 2016 at 19:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I know exactly what the S&S book is. OP said all they're learning is Arduino, hence why I said he need to learn about real circuits instead of wasting time on Arduino. However, S&S is not a book I would recommend for beginners. It is huge, it is heavy, it is expensive and it is, frankly, overwhelming. There are much better starting textbooks. \$\endgroup\$
    – Catsunami
    Apr 27, 2016 at 19:57

You are wildly underestimating the amount of knowledge needed to learn "everything". Studying computer architecture alone could take you at least through a master's degree. If you want to understand digital electronics you're going to need to learn about circuit analysis and MOSFETs. (Each of those is at least one semester in college, and calculus is a prerequisite.) You could go arbitrarily deep into physics studying LCDs. Communications protocols are simpler, but unfortunately USB is on the difficult end of those.

None of these things are impossible, but they will take time. You can start by studying basic combinational and sequential logic, perhaps with a small FPGA platform. If you master that, you can move on into basic computer architecture.

On the analog/electronics side, the Falstad circuit simulator is a fun tool to play with. HyperPhysics has a lot of brief lessons on electricity. You could also try All About Circuits. Play-Hookey is probably more helpful on the digital front.

All of the books I know are college-level or have other prerequisites, so I can't help you there.

If you want to major in engineering in college, be sure to study hard in any high school class that teaches or uses algebra. This will make life much easier for you in the future.


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