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The Way Things Work
Way things work.jpg
Book cover for The Way Things Work
Author David Macaulay
Neil Ardley
Country United States
Language English
Genre Educational
Publisher Houghton Mifflin
Publication date
Pages 400
ISBN 0-395-42857-2
OCLC 17917341
600 19
LC Class T47 .M18 1988

The Way Things Work is a 1988 children's book by David Macaulay with technical text by Neil Ardley. It is an entertaining introduction to everyday machines, describing machines as simple as levers and gears and as complicated as radio telescopes and automatic transmissions. Every page consists primarily of one or more large diagrams describing the operation of the relevant machine. These diagrams are informative but playful, in that most show the machines operated, used upon, or represented by woolly mammoths, and are accompanied by anecdotes of the mammoths' (fictive) role in the operation. The book's concept was later developed into a short-lived animated TV show (produced by Millimages and distributed by Schlessinger Media), a Dorling Kindersley interactive CD-ROM (including a spin-off pinball game), and a board game. A family "ride" involving animatronics and a 3-D film based on the book was one of the original attractions at the San Francisco Metreon, but closed in 2001.

The New Way Things Work

A newer version, The New Way Things Work, released on October 26, 1998, contains additional text on the workings of computers and digital technology. It however also lacks numerous pages of the first edition; among them:

  • Two pages which demonstrated the working of a mechanical coin-operated parking meter
  • Two pages on the distinction between a calculator and a computer
  • One page explaining binary arithmetic and logical AND and OR gates
  • One page explaining the half adder
  • Two pages explaining the full adder
  • Two pages explaining the pocket calculator
  • numerous other pages

The Way Things Work Now

A substantially revised edition, The Way Things Work Now, has been published in October 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Dorling Kindersley.

Table of Contents for The New Way Things Work

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