Jim Williams: The light side and classic electronics art sculptures

-April 01, 2013

Williams' TV room

Prominently displayed in Williams’ TV room at home was a 9” analog TV. How’s that as a testament to analog vs. digital?

Electronics art sculptures

Williams had a job at MIT as a lab tech who built and repaired the scientific equipment there. He was a self-taught engineer who had an extraordinary insight into the in-depth workings of electronic circuits and even thought of them as a thing of beauty since he appreciated the thought that went into innovative design and layout of circuit components (especially analog) for optimum performance.

Steve Pietkiewicz told us that Williams’ early artistic endeavors in electronics art sculptures were formal and full of right angles. Later on the concepts were more free-flowing.

He was influenced by modern art which he had displayed in his home from the abstract like Andy Warhol. This interest spilled over to his electronics art sculpture design.

Williams would shop at flea markets and junk stores for components. Tektronix capacitors in big blue cans and crystals in glass were some of his choices in electronic components used.

Since it was difficult to wire at home, he chose the attic. His creations were chaotic while balanced. He thought long and hard about component placement, especially regarding weight and mass balance and all of his creations were working electronic designs.

Williams would hide a Gecko or a bird in some of his work also (Note the Gecko in the upper right side of the image below).

Williams’ “Living room thermometer” appears on the cover of “Analog Circuit Design, Volume I” (Courtesy of Linear Technology)


Here is the schematic of the “Living room thermometer” drawn by Williams (Courtesy of Linear Technology)

Next: Dag Spicer

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