Strange and Wonderful Illustrations from Vintage Science Books

Revolution in Electricity b2017-03-19 19_42_32

Revolution in Electricity : The Story of the Wonder Crystals: Transistors, Solar Cells, Supermagnets, and Electronic Lights (1962)

Look through about any school science textbook today and they are absolutely brimming with glossy illustrations. But, for some reason, older science books seemed to have a bit more “flair” than today.  Unlike the illustrations of today’s science textbooks which are all-too-perfect, but also all-too-dull, the 1950s-1970s delivered some impressively creative and often odd visuals.

So, let’s thumb through some pages of science book art from the 1950s-1980s and see what wondrous finds we uncover.  Enjoy.

Atoms, Energy and Machines (1957)

McCormick, Jack |New York, NY: Creative Educational Society, Inc.

Atoms Energy and Machines 1957

Lasers: Tools of Modern Technology (1968)

Brown, Ronald | Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc.

Lasers a2017-03-24 15_16_32

Lasers ab2017-03-24 15_16_32

Future World (1979)

Goodwin, Peter | New York, NY: Crescent Books

future world 1979

Los Ordenadores (1973)

Translation: The Computers. Berenguer, X., Corominas, A., Garriga, J. | Barcelona: Salvat Editores, S.A.

Los Ordenadores

Physics: A Basic Science (1954)

Elmer, E., Verwiebe, F., Hazel, H., Van Hooft, G. | New York, NY: D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc.

Physics a2017-03-19 19_52_25

Matter (1974)

Lapp, Ralph E. | New York, NY: Time, Inc.

Matter a2017-03-19 18_45_31

Robots: Machines in Man’s Image (1985)

Asimov, I., Frenkel, K. | New York, NY: Harmony Books

Robots a2017-03-19 16_52_28

Bionic Parts for People (1978)

Skurzynski, Gloria | New York, NY: Four Winds Press

Bionic Parts for People a2017-03-19 19_45_32

Supersonic Cruise Technology (1985)

McLean, Edward | Washington, DC: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Supersonic Cruise Technology a2017-03-19 19_02_58

The Engineer (1975)

Furnas, C.C., McCarthy, J. | New York, NY: Time-Life Books

The Engineer a2017-03-19 19_53_57

The Engineer ab2017-03-19 19_53_57

Why Chimps Can Read (1976)

Premack, Ann J. | New York, NY: Harper & Row, Publishers

Why Chimps Can Read 1976

Why Chimps Can Read 1976 c

Sound: From Communication to Noise Pollution (1970)

Chedd, Graham | Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc.

Sound a2017-03-19 19_28_22

Modern Science: Man, Matter and Energy (1967)

Blanc, S., Fischler, A., Gardner, O. | New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.

Modern Science

The Mind (1964)

Wilson, John Rowan | New York, NY: Time Incorporated

The Mind ab2017-03-24 15_13_27

So, if you still have your old science books, it may be worthwhile to page through them – you never know what gem of an illustration you may find.  Also check out the Reanimation Library online – where old textbooks get new life, and is the source for many of the illustrations in this article.

The Mind 2017-03-24 15_13_27

Would you like to support Flashbak?

Please consider making a donation to our site. We don't want to rely on ads to bring you the best of visual culture. You can also support us by signing up to our Mailing List. And you can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For great art and culture delivered to your door, visit our shop.