I did my undergraduate and graduate work in physics right after World War II, as a Columbia victim. It was an era in which optics and electronics enjoyed similarly undistinguished roles in the curriculum, although optics was a required course and electronics was not. But then, electronics was useful, which brought these academic requirements into line with extant pedagogic philosophy. I guess most of us thought optics was useful too, but we didn't really think we had to understand anything more than the thin‐lens equation, whereas we really had to know how to do electronics because we were all up to our navels in vacuum tubes and stuff. (Some of you are probably too young to know what a vacuum tube is; imagine a sort of glass cylinder with strange prongs at the base, one of which is always slightly bent….)
Optics: an ebullient evolution
Peter Franken; Optics: an ebullient evolution. Physics Today 1 November 1981; 34 (11): 160–171. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.2914354
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