My favorite is "The Cat Battery", originally published in Life Magazine in 1884 and republished in IEEE Spectrum in August 1984. Unfortunately, you have to fork over $13 (IEEE member rate) for a copy of something that's long been in the public domain. So much for the Internet.
Anyway, the article describes how when you put two cats together (especially male), you see electrical phenomena such as hair standing on end and if you wire the cats together in series by clipping on jumpers you see even more pronounced electrical effects. Most cats have a resistance of one home (pronounced "Ohm"), though some cats have more than one 'ome and some unfortunate cats are 'omeless.
The article has wonderful 19th century drawings of cats in both excited and quiescent states.
I was a sucker for an article in one of trade magazines in the 70's-80's, like Popular Electronics, or Electronics Illustrated
It was an article about an "In-Situ" solar panel using cookie trays and sand. I had no clue!
Still one of my favorites -- I believe it was in the EDN April Supplement sometime in the mid 80s -- was a pair of logarithmic amplifiers that used microprocessors as diodes in the feedback path of the op-amp by connecting VSS & VDD backwards. One circuit used an Intel processor and the other a Motorola processor, and as I recall, the article included test data and a discussion about which was the better chip to use for this application, Intel or Motorola.
The hilarious thing of course, was that these were functioning log amp circuits.
There's the 70's Wireless World article 'Dynamic Range Versus Ambient Noise' by George Izzard O'Veering, which can be found at:
I also remember a magazine called Elektor which had some spoof circuits in its April editions, like a 'Battery Eliminator', which was a dead short.
As we unveil EE Times’ 2015 Silicon 60 list, journalist & Silicon 60 researcher Peter Clarke hosts a conversation on startups in the electronics industry. Panelists Dan Armbrust (investment firm Silicon Catalyst), Andrew Kau (venture capital firm Walden International), and Stan Boland (successful serial entrepreneur, former CEO of Neul, Icera) join in the live debate.