Newton's Telecom Dictionary

Although you probably won't be looking for everything in the book you can be fairly sure that what you are looking for is there.
  • Author: Harry Newton

  • Publisher: Telecom Library, Inc. ISBN: 0-936648-42-2

  • Price: $24.95

  • Reviewer: Phil Hughes

Newton bills his book as the “world's number 1 selling telecommunications dictionary”. This new edition weighs in at 1110 pages and is totally filled with computer and telecommunications terms. Although you probably won't be looking for everything in the book you can be fairly sure that what you are looking for is there.

For example, look under “error control protocols” and you will find a very good explanation of V.42, MNP and LAP-M stretching to about a page. Or look up “group 1, 2, 3, 3bis & 4” and get another one-page explanation of various FAX standards. I even found “pentium” in the book. I had to look for PEP, Telebit's proprietary modem protocol, to stump the book.

If it has anything mildly to do with telecommunications it seems to be in the book. That's the good news. But there's some bad news as well. First, the whole book is set in Helvetica type. This works ok for short definitions but it becomes just plain hard to read for longer explanations. The type face is fairly large so that isn't a serious problem, but Harry could have made a better book and saved a lot of paper by doing the work in a serifed face and smaller point size.

The second problem with the book is an assortment of small errors. For example, the 8088 is described as the 8-bit version of the 16-bit 8080. Most anyone knows the 16-bit cousin is the 8086, not the 8080, but such an error makes me nervous that there may be some real hidden “gotchas” hidden in the more technical information. The book even defines the 80387SX as the coprocessor for the 80385SX microprocessor. Yeah, we all know that this was supposed to be the 80386SX as the book has already said but, once again, simple typos like this scare me.

The bottom line? I think Newton's book is worth purchasing, but I hope the 7th edition addresses these concerns.

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Phil Hughes