Drafts of the Mead-Conway textbook,
Introduction to VLSI Systems

A VLSI Archive Page compiled by Lynn Conway

[V 3-20-08].


This page contains links to PDFs of the series of 1977-1978 prepublication draft versions of the textbook Introduction to VLSI Systems by Mead and Conway. These drafts were self-published on the laser printing systems at Xerox PARC, and used to document and evolve the Mead-Conway design methods prior to the book's publication by Addison-Wesley in the fall of 1979.


The draft texts played a key role in the emergence of the Mead-Conway methods. You can access all three versions in PDF format at the links below. Access to individual chapters in the prepublication versions is also provided in the VLSI Archive Spreadsheet:


Links to prepublication drafts:


Version 1, Oct.'77: 

Introduction to LSI Systems  PDF (118p; 11.4mb)



Version 2, Feb.'78: 

Introduction to VLSI Systems  PDF (258p; 8.9mb)



Version 3, July '78: 

Introduction to VLSI Systems  (V3, single-sided page format, best for on-line viewing: PDF; 425p; 28.3mb)



Introduction to VLSI Systems  (V3, double-sided page format, for double-sided printing: PDF; 570p; 28.5mb)





Historical background:


The evolving Mead-Conway VLSI design methodology was documented, tested and refined via a series of self-published drafts of what would become the textbook Introduction to VLSI Systems. These prepublication versions were used in a succession of integrated circuit and system design courses, in order to test and refine the design methods and their exposition in the text.


The first three chapters of the text (prepublication version 1) were used in the fall of '77 by Carver Mead at Caltech and Carlo Sequin at U. C. Berkeley, as course notes within courses on integrated circuit design. The first five chapters (prepublication version 2) were used during the spring of '78 in courses by Ivan Sutherland and Amr Mohsen at Caltech, By Robert Sproull at Carnegie-Mellon University, by Dov Frohman-Bentchkowsky at Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and by Fred Rosenberger at Washington University, St. Louis.


A draft of the full nine chapters of the text (prepublication version 3) was completed in the summer of 1978 and used in courses at Caltech and U.C. Berkeley and by Lynn Conway in a new VLSI system design course at M.I.T.  The final draft of the textbook was compiled from accumulated revisions of version 3, and published by Addison-Wesley in the fall of 1979, just in time for courses at many universities that fall (and thus in time for MPC79).

The prepublication draft versions of the text were written and printed using the Alto personal computers and laser printers at Xerox PARC.  The Altos were locally networked and also connected to laser printers via ethernet (which had also been invented at PARC). The many color plates in the drafts were reproduced on early Xerox color copiers, and inserted manually into the drafts. The Alto computing environment was also interfaced to the emerging Arpanet (internet) via a server (MAXC) at PARC, enabling PARC researchers to collaborate via e-mails and file transfers with faculty, students and researchers at many leading universities of the day.

Scans of the originals of all three drafts of the text are posted online in this VLSI Archive (in PDF format), enabling readers to reconstruct the progress of the work on the evolving design methods and text. Many of the pages in the drafts contain dated filenames for printed files, enabling changes to be tracked over time.

For more about the technical culture and computing environment in which much of the Mead-Conway work was conducted and where the text was created, see Michael Hiltzik's book Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age (HarperCollins Publishers, 1999). Mike's book captures the youthful spirit of adventure in the air at PARC at the time, and tells the amazing story of how modern networked personal computing was born there during the 1970's. Access to this pioneering computing infrastructure provided the Mead-Conway team with access to 'secret weapons' for the rapid development of engineering knowledge in ways that were unknown elsewhere in that day.



LynnConway.com > Lynn Conway's VLSI Archive > Prepublication drafts of "Introduction to VLSI Systems"