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So I'm reading through the Tab Electronics Guide to Understanding Electricity and Electronics, and I'm literally at the first few pages of the introduction and he mentions electronics databooks.

The author describes them as such:

The manufacturers and distributors of electronic components publish data books, containing cross-referencing information and individual component specifications. A few examples of such books are NTE Semiconductors, The GE Semiconductor Replacement Guide, and SK Replacement Cross-Reference Dictionary.

Your first project in the field of electronics is to obtain all all of the electronics data books that you can get your hands on ... They are that essential.

After reading the whole section on this (about ~3 pages), I still don't really understand what they are, and why / if I need them.

Also, this book has a 2000 copyright... has anything changed (e.g., have these things gotten digitized and become free?)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Substitute "Web site" for "Databook", and you're pretty much there. \$\endgroup\$ – gbarry Aug 9 '12 at 2:36
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A databook is a collection of datasheets, in printed book form, from a single manufacturer. Sometimes manufacturers would include application notes or white papers in the databook as well.

Back in "the day", engineers would have a large library of databooks. Around 1997 my library was made from six 6-foot bookshelves completely full of databooks-- that used all the wall space in the employee break room. Around the same time, manufacturer representatives and field-sales people from distributors would drive from customer to customer with their trunk full of databooks.

This was before the Internet was useful, and PDF's were commonplace. Databooks have been mostly obsoleted now, to the delight of field sales people and employees taking breaks everywhere.

Cookbooks are entirely different. They were almost always published by third parties, not the chip manufacturers themselves, and thus were mostly manufacturer agnostic. Cookbooks were more like application notes, while datasheets were more about formally documenting the manufacturers specifications.

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    \$\begingroup\$ ... If you are at a possibly interesting company for a job interview, it may be a very good sign to see a room with shelves full of neatly organized data books - it could be an indicator that the company is doing well, values its tradition, and no re-org has taken place. For a college grad, this is the place to learn from the elders. \$\endgroup\$ – zebonaut Aug 9 '12 at 5:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ If I saw a room full of databooks I would question them on it, since in my opinion this is not a good sign. Semiconductors are not an area to be stuck in the past. Databooks have been obsolete for more than 10 years and so many things have improved since then. I put up a poster in our conference room here. The picture is of the running of the bulls in Pamplona. The caption says, "Tradition: Just because you've always done it that way does not mean it's not incredibly stupid." I've worked with companies stuck in the past (no SMT, MCU's, or 3.3v logic) and it's like a slow death. \$\endgroup\$ – user3624 Aug 9 '12 at 13:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Throwing away information about technologies likely still deployed in a company's products is unwise, unless you know you have it elsewhere. The web is powerful, but just assuming that it will yield the data sheet on that obscure part from 30 years back seems a bit risky. Of course generic stuff can go. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton Aug 11 '12 at 3:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisStratton I agree completely, but there are many issues. It is useful to archive information on old products, even if they are no longer in production. The company I work for has done this by digitizing old datasheets-- and then throwing away the printed version. This is simply good record keeping. On the other hand, nobody should be designing a NEW product that uses parts where an electronic version of the datasheet is not available. That would be as irresponsible as throwing away old design information. \$\endgroup\$ – user3624 Aug 11 '12 at 3:37
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First there was print. Databooks were the bibles in component information. Have the audio databook on your desk and you conquer the world. Before the Internet era I worked at Philips Audio, and just the Philips databooks was a 2m pile. Very awkward if you needed the book at the bottom :-). Then there were the databooks from the other manufacturers, and you needed several sets, so you ended up with a library with several hundreds of databooks.

But databooks are impractical, not only because of the place they take. They needed updating with new products, and as a small customer you had to buy the new version every so often, or the manufacturer had to ship tens of thousands free to their big customers.

Then there were CD-ROMs. You can get your complete collection of datasheets on a couple of CD-ROMs, they're virtually free so you can have a set for each design engineer, and publish a new version twice a year. And PDFs are searchable! Much better already.

Not good enough! Your sales engineer comes along to present a new product, and you want the datasheet, preferably by yesterday. The next CD-ROM isn't due before November, so you would get a leaflet (for a diode) or a book (for a microcontroller).

With the Internet databooks and printed datasheets are things of the past. You can get the datasheet on the manufacturer's website the day it's published, and you can subscribe to newsletters which inform you of any new information.

While the manufacturer's website seems the logical choice for information (you can't get more up-to-date than that) I often use Digikey as a starting point. That's because I need a component for a specific function, and I want to see what exists. At that moment I don't care about the manufacturer yet. Digikey (or Mouser, or...) will let you compare different manufacturers, and they link to the datasheet on the manufacturer's site too.

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Notice that the book, which O.P. is quoting, dates back to year 2000.

Databook is a collection of datasheets printed and distributed as a physical book. A databook usually covers a family of devices. However, datasheets are published in PDF online these days. Databooks predate internet and PDF datasheets. I think, they are obsolete now.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As a physical or tangible object, yes, but not the concept of databooks. Companies do still product electronic databooks that are collections of datasheets or app notes for particular families of ICs, e.g. TTL/CMOS logic, op-amps, audio, automotive or military environmental specification, etc. \$\endgroup\$ – mctylr Aug 11 '12 at 4:04
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Here is an example

It sounds like the author is referring to what are sometimes called Cookbooks. This of these like encyclopedias of semiconductor components and IC's. For example, if you had a TTL cookbook, it would list every TTL chip. Most of the time, chips from different manufacturers carry the same number. Such as a 74LS00 could be made by anyone, its still a 74LS00. The cookbook will tell you electrical specifications, pin assignments and truth tables (if they apply). They are not required by any means, as you can find these same specs online. They are just easier sometimes. And some EE's like to have books to reference.

Some manufacturers come out with their own specific books also.

For regular TTL or CMOS IC's, cookbooks are great. However keep in mind for newer IC's or for MCU's, its usualy (always) better to go to the net and get the latest cutsheet.

They are very very handy, save me alot of time hunting the internet looking for data sheets.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Cookbooks were more like project books, with schematics. They often included the datasheets for the chips they used, for completeness. \$\endgroup\$ – gbarry Aug 9 '12 at 2:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, cookbooks are not synonymous with databooks. Databooks are typically collections of datasheets or applications notes, normally groups by family, i.e. TTL or CMOS logic, voltage regulators, op-amps, etc. Most major manufacturers published them until the 1990's. \$\endgroup\$ – mctylr Aug 11 '12 at 4:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a terminology issue. What your describing is exactly what I'm describing. I even have an old CMOS book that's labelled as a cookbook. \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Aug 15 '12 at 4:40

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