Don Lancaster

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Donald E. Lancaster is an American author, inventor, and microcomputer pioneer.


Lancaster was a writer and engineer, often turned to in popularized electronics hobby of the 1970s in popular print magazines of the day. These included the most widely circulated one in the US, Popular Electronics. Other magazines in its genre and of the era include: Dr. Dobb's Journal, by Jim Warren; 73 Magazine, and Byte magazine, initially published by the late Wayne Green; and HR magazine, published by Jim Fisk. A third-party history of the era is Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution. He produced and documented hobby level projects which were documented and occasionally serialized in those magazine columns, developing a regular readership, similar to the pulp serials of the World War II era.

The first major and very early project that sparked the notion that end users could make their own computer devices was his "TV Typewriter" dumb terminal project. It was a proof of concept, which was composed largely of discrete components and early integrated circuits, pre-dating microprocessors or large-scale integration embedded controllers. See similarly in that era, the Homebrew Computer Club, his book on technical entrepreneurship The Incredible Secret Money Machine, and his companion work on and advocacy of early print-on-demand technology anticipate the Lulu and Amazon print on demand businesses, based on end-author prepared PDF documents. Lulu also demonstrates the combined entrepreneur and technology inventor model, with its founder, Bob Young having previously successfully started the Red Hat enterprise Open Source computer software distribution, entity.

Lancaster fulfilled orders for so-called 'dead tree' books with what are now called print-on-demand technique for several books (without ISBN, because they were 'guerrilla' creations not amenable to the expense of purchasing a listing in 'Books In Print' -- the dominant catalog of the era). He produced these prints by re-purposing the game port of an Apple II to transfer PostScript code to a laser printer rather than, as was common at the time, a Macintosh running PageMaker. He helped design and manufacture the Apple I keyboard. He formerly held a ham radio license (K3BYG).


  • TTL Cookbook (Macmillan, May 1974). Paperback ISBN 0-672-21035-5
  • RTL Cookbook (Sams, 1969). 5th printing (Sams, 1973) Paperback ISBN 0-672-20715-X
  • TV Typewriter Cookbook (January 1976). ISBN 0-672-21313-3
  • The Incredible Secret Money Machine (January 1978). ISBN 0-672-21562-4
  • The Cheap Video Cookbook (Sams, May 1978). Paperback ISBN 0-672-21524-1
  • Son of Cheap Video (January 1980). Paperback ISBN 0-672-21723-6
  • CMOS Cookbook 1st (Sams, 1977). ISBN 0-672-21398-2, 2nd rev. (Butterworth-Heinemann, January 1997). ISBN 0-7506-9943-4
  • The Hexadecimal Chronicles (January 1981). Paperback ISBN 0-672-21802-X
  • Don Lancaster's Micro Cookbook (Sams, October 1982). Paperback ISBN 0-672-21828-3
  • Assembly Cookbook for Apple II/IIE (Sams, July 1984). Paperback ISBN 0-672-22331-7
  • Enhancing Your Apple II (January 1985). Paperback ISBN 0-672-21846-1
  • Applewriter Cookbook (January 1986). Paperback ISBN 0-672-22460-7
  • The Incredible Secret Money Machine II
  • Enhancing Your Apple II and IIe ISBN 0-672-21822-4
  • Book-On-Demand Resource Kit
  • Lancaster's Active Filter Cookbook (Butterworth-Heinemann, August 1996). Paperback ISBN 0-7506-2986-X
  • The Case Against Patents : Selected Reprints from "Midnight Engineering" & "Nuts & Volts" Magazines (Synergetics Press, January 1996). Paperback ISBN 1-882193-71-7

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