Editor's Letter Insights

Circuit Cellar’s 400th Issue

Written by Sam Wallace

It’s funny introducing Circuit Cellar’s 400th issue. By most measures, I’m still new at this magazine. I’ve been working here a little over a year, and have, as of this publication, been the Editor-in-Chief of Circuit Cellar for 14 of its issues. In no way is this milestone—four hundred issues!—my accomplishment.

Nor, for that matter, is any issue I’ve been a part of “my” accomplishment. I’m the guy at a fancy restaurant who, after a team of highly trained expert chefs prepare a dish, makes sure there are no unsightly food smears on the plate before it goes to the table. Circuit Cellar’s quality, success, and longevity rests on the shoulders of its tireless writers, some of whom have been with the magazine since its inception. Each issue feels like a low-grade marathon, and I have the easy job. I can’t fathom doing 400 of these, as some members of our staff have done.

On the heels of a well-received article he wrote, Steve Ciarcia was hired by BYTE magazine in 1977 to write a column called “Ciarcia’s Circuit Cellar,” which presented projects he was working on. The column grew in popularity until Steve decided in 1979 to start a company called Micromint that would sell kits based on the projects he wrote about. These two ventures were a hit, and Steve enlisted the help of Ed Nisley, Ken Davidson, and Jeff Bachiochi to contribute their technical expertise to the column and its projects. When BYTE’s editorial direction changed a few years after they were bought by McGraw-Hill, Steve founded his own magazine—this one—in 1988. (This means that we are also celebrating Circuit Cellar’s 35th anniversary this year.) Many of the folks from BYTE followed Steve in this new endeavor. The Circuit Cellar magazine team in those days consisted of Steve Ciarcia, Ken Davidson, Jeff Bachiochi, Ed Nisley, Dan Rodrigues, Jeannette Dojan (who later became Steve’s wife), Tom Cantrell, Dave Tweed, and many others. We still proudly count Jeff, Ken, and Dave among our staff.

I ran into a wrinkle in this story during my research. Steve posits in his account of Circuit Cellar’s origins and history [1] that it was Dan Rodrigues who first suggested to Steve, upon hearing of BYTE’s redirection, that they start their own magazine. But a few months ago, I received an e-mail from Bob Paddock, a former Circuit Cellar writer who, in the ‘90s and ‘00s, was a part of the “Ask Us” group for Circuit Cellar Online, and who also had his own column for a while. Bob claims that a comment he made to Steve started the whole thing off. He wrote: “I said to [Steve], ‘What we really need is a magazine for hardware, like Dr. Dobb’s Journal is for software.‘ He responded, ‘Good idea,‘ and over a year or so later the first issue of Circuit Cellar magazine was a reality.“ I think both accounts are true, for the record. In Steve’s own telling, he relied on the help of numerous other “hardware nerds” (Bob’s term), and I don’t doubt that, with the unwelcome changes taking place at BYTE, multiple of these clever engineer-writers were thinking the same thing.

However it happened, we’ve come full circle. Because I wouldn’t be typing these words if it weren’t for the decades of clever design, fascinating articles, and sheer engineering fun that have made Circuit Cellar what it is today. Nor would any of us be doing this if it weren’t for our readers, who are, more often than not, experts in an increasingly sophisticated technical field who still find joy or knowledge in this magazine’s pages. To borrow Steve’s phrase, “we truly have a non-superficial readership.” So, yes, it feels funny to introduce the 400th edition of Circuit Cellar. But it is no less an honor, a privilege, and a delight. I’m grateful to the Circuit Cellar team and to everyone reading. Please enjoy this special issue.

[1] Steve Ciarcia, “Wondering How It All Began?” Circuit Cellar’s 25th Anniversary Edition.

Issue Table of Contents can be found here,
as articles are made available online they will be linked.


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Editor-in-Chief at KCK Media Corp. | + posts

Sam Wallace - became Circuit Cellar's  Editor-In-Chief in August 2022.
His experience in writing, editing, and teaching will provide a great perspective on the selection, presentation, and clarity of editorial content. The Circuit Cellar audience will benefit from his strong academic background encompassing a Master of Fine Arts in Writing and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with honors. His passion for learning and teaching is a great fit for Circuit Cellar's continuing mission of Inspiring the Evolution of Embedded Design.

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Circuit Cellar’s 400th Issue

by Sam Wallace time to read: 3 min