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Hans Camenzind

- About the Book

Much Ado About Almost Nothing: Man's Encounter with the Electron
by Hans Camenzind
Published by BookLocker.com
(ISBN 978-0-615-13995-1, 240 pages, many photos, index, footnotes, bibliography, soft cover, $14.95)

Much Ado About Almost Nothing presents the history of electronic invention through profiles of dozens of personalities who have diligently followed the electron to riches and ruin.

Author Hans Camenzind shows a palpable love for the oddballs and eccentrics who tamed electricity: scientists, engineers, inventors, self-promoters, professors, visionaries, speculators, moguls, geniuses, politicians, venture capitalists, and con artists.

Camenzind covers well-known luminaries such as Ben Franklin, Michael Faraday, Samuel F.B. Morse, Alexander Graham Bell, Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Guglielmo Marconi, Philo Farnsworth and William Shockley. But he also covers the lesser lights who nonetheless made important contributions to the history of invention. Read about:

  • Lee de Forest, the self-proclaimed "Father of Radio" and a 3-times rags-to-riches inventor and conniver.
  • John Baird, who built the first TV set in his attic in 1923. He got rich, went broke, and was made obsolete in the late 1930s by RCA.

Camenzind races through the history of electronic discovery like a charged particle. He briefly sketches the lives, education, achievements, fortunes and misfortunes of dozens of explorers and risk-takers.

Topics covered in Much Ado About Almost Nothing include:

  • Electricity, magnetism, electromagnetism
  • X-rays, cathode rays, subatomic particles
  • Transmitters, receivers, amplifiers
  • Vacuum tubes, transistors, integrated circuits
  • Telegraph, telephone, radio, television
  • Microchips, calculators, computers


Much Ado About Almost Nothing is a well-written book. I was amazed how easy it was to understand even complex technology (I am not an engineer or scientist). There are many interesting people in here, making an absorbing story.
-- John Petersen

An informative and captivating tour of science focusing on the people that have contributed to our knowledge of electricity. Surprise! These are interesting -- and sometimes satisfyingly odd -- people.
-- Ozdachs

Suddenly these people come alive and we read about their achievements, ambitions and frustrations, successes and tragedies.
-- Reini Zimmerli

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