I was reading a book on digital electronics and the gates with more than two input are drawn differently. I have seen many books that draw schematic in this style. I was wondering what software did they use. I am specifically talking about the way the OR gate is done here.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Any decent package should be able to draw schematics like that. I know that it is possible with the Pulsonix software that I use, at any rate. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 11, 2017 at 13:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ RubberStamp raised the very nice point that LaTeX with packages like Tikz can be used to draw similar diagrams, albeit discussion showed that this particular gate types might be not readily available. Tikz is, however, extensible through coding. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 11, 2017 at 13:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ From the manual, I am sure PGF just makes the size of the gates bigger to accommodate more than 2 inputs, it doesn't extend the curvy base as in the picture. Given that PGF can draw any drawing, but drawing circuits without macros will be a pain in the ass. \$\endgroup\$
    – sigsegv
    Nov 11, 2017 at 13:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ by the way, the font in the drawings, the style of the gates, the way the strokes ever so slightly differ in width, and the kind of devices shown here point to this being a 1970's American drawing. May I ask from which book this is? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 11, 2017 at 13:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's from 1977 – it would very much surprise me if the editors had software to draw these schematics :) \$\endgroup\$ Nov 11, 2017 at 14:07

4 Answers 4


That doesn't look like any software was used, but a good old-fashioned drawing board, maybe a few symbol templates/stencils/curve templates used by someone who probably is a trained technical draughtman.

Making such drawings is a job where you actually needed quite some expertise, so technischer Zeichner (at least in Germany) is a proper Ausbildungsberuf (a recognised occupation requiring formal training).

Nowadays, you'll find a lot of circuit drawing software, but my guess is that you'd need to extend them quite a bit to make it easy to draw such legacy diagrams.

Other than that, standard vector graphics software can be used to draw anything that primarily consists of geometric elements.

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    \$\begingroup\$ " trained technical drawer" : technical draughtsman is the word... just for info as I see your answers often - cheers \$\endgroup\$
    – Solar Mike
    Nov 11, 2017 at 14:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Or "draftsman" in the US. \$\endgroup\$
    – The Photon
    Nov 11, 2017 at 15:55

As others have mentioned, it looks like that was drawn the old fashioned way, with one of these:

enter image description here

along with some of these:

enter image description here

Tools that once were in every electrical engineer's arsenal, along with one of these:

enter image description here

Battery life was great, and they seldom crashed!

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    \$\begingroup\$ From the stroke quality, I'd expect the thing to have actually been drawn with one of these earlier ink pens, no idea what they're called, and only (maybe?) pre-drawn in graphite pencil. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 11, 2017 at 22:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ I had a couple of sliderules crash, when they were sticking out of a textbook and hit a door frame while I was running to class. \$\endgroup\$
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 12, 2017 at 13:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MarcusMüller You probably mean a technical pen. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 12, 2017 at 16:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MarcusMüller Colloquially, they were called Rotring. (Similar story to Xerox.) \$\endgroup\$ Nov 12, 2017 at 19:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Marcus Müller a "Rapidograph" pen, maybe? BTW, these templates were moderately expensive. And the ink was called "encre de chine" in french, ironically... \$\endgroup\$ Nov 12, 2017 at 23:52

As others have said, they probably didn’t have any particular software available at the time of publication. If you are interested in a modern solution, however, check out the Circuit macros package for LaTeX. It has the wide gate in its library. From the manual:

circuit macros

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Prime LaTeX can do anything with enough `\`s. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alexander
    Nov 12, 2017 at 1:53

I don't believe this was drawn with any modern software tool. It appears to me to be a reproduction from a late-80s/early-90s era databook from before the days of online/digital datasheets. Go to ti.com and look up some of the CD4000-series logic datasheets that are reminiscent of this period. Dual 2-Input NAND

As to the "wings" on the OR, this is typically done to allow the user to better follow the interconnect of the wires by spacing them out.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you expand your answer to say which page of the CD4000-series datasheet the answer to "What software was used for drawing this schematic?" is on? \$\endgroup\$
    – Transistor
    Nov 11, 2017 at 16:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Then consider posting it as a comment. It's not an answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Transistor
    Nov 11, 2017 at 16:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Transistor OP stated: "I have seen many book that draw schematic in this style. I was wondering what software did they use." I don't believe this was drawn with any modern software tool. I am stating that this was a copy/reproduction of an older-style printed databook. I believe that is an answer to the question "what software did they use". \$\endgroup\$
    – M D
    Nov 11, 2017 at 16:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ "I don't believe this was drawn with any modern software tool." You should put that in your post. (I didn't downvote.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Transistor
    Nov 11, 2017 at 16:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ It looks like its PLA (programmable Logic Array) design/programming sheet. I believe it was from Monolithic Memories late 1970's. For more info see electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/5825/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Venustas
    Nov 11, 2017 at 22:01

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