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Integrated Circuits and How They Affect You

Dec 18, 2007
Instead of clunky circuits, etching complete circuits on "chips" has moved the work of IT far ahead. Don't you think you would like to know more about an IC? How does it apply to you? How has their development changed your life? To answer these questions, we must first work to understand them as a whole.

Whether integrated or not, circuits are circuits. Their makeup should not be too far from your grasp, as they are constructed from basic electronic parts. The technology that makes your computer able to run everything from Word to Half-Life is just run by connected transistors, diodes, capacitors, and resistors. The transistors act as amplifiers for all of our household electronics, while the resistors focus on tuning back the effect.

Capacitors allow electricity to be stored and released in varying amounts for special effects, and the diode works to cut off electricity. Through these simply changes to electric current, we are able to send information throughout the device to make everything just work.

With these basics in mind, let us explore further. The 1950s saw a very important change in the field of electronic parts. Transistors were invented to replace the bulky and ineffective vacuum tubes that were once necessary for circuits. This let smaller electronics be practical and possible, since you finally didn't need your own power plant to run advancing technologies.

It was circuitry that held back further compression. Computers require the electric signals to flow quickly between the different parts. Old methods of production meant that the chips were just too large to actually be fast enough for practical computing. A new method for building a faster and smaller chip had to be found.

But the solution was found in the form of an Integrated Circuit. He was just a new researcher left alone in the Texas Instruments laboratory while several of his colleagues were on vacation. While alone, he came up with a radical new way to actually craft chips. The different parts could just be made out of one block of a semi-conductive material.

Conducting connecters put these parts together. Gone were the days of unwieldy and ineffective wires for transmitting information from point A to point B. This technique allowed for smaller integrated circuits to be made later on, which ultimately led to the development of the microprocessor.

This followed decades of innovation and that is what brought us to where we are. One integrated circuit led to another until it ended with the mind shatteringly fast chips of today. Hundreds of millions of basic electronic parts are now able to fit on one chip that is no larger than an average fingernail.
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