Integrated Circuits and the Digital Revolution

Published: 27th September 2006
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First invented in the 1950s, the integrated circuit has been the key to numerous technological advancements. Since their inception, integrated circuits have found their way into almost all aspects of modern day life as far as electronics are concerned. Integrated circuits are essential for many common day activities, as well as major world changing events. Technology is allowing for Integrated Circuits to become more efficient and complex, providing a platform for scientists, researcher, and engineers alike to discuss the advances made by the integrated circuit, as well as its future.

The first successful integrated circuit was created by an employee of Texas Instruments. There were several advances in electronics that allowed for the placement of many electronic components on one single chip. However, the process was too time consuming, and not reliable enough, until one man discovered that using the same semiconductor material, i.e. Silicon, would allow all the components to be created and put together as one complete mass. The result was a working integrated circuit, and wasn't used until several years later in a military operation, giving the chip the global exposure it needed to take off.

Once the chip gained a little popularity, it wasn't long before people saw the potential of the integrated circuit and began to incorporate it into all types of electronics. Integrated circuits allowed large and bulky electronics to be made desktop and even handheld size. The inventor of the integrated circuit created the first handheld calculator, which is still the most used brand of calculator today, Texas Instruments. The chip has allowed for computers, advances in machinery, manufacturing, transportation, and just about every industry on the globe. The integrated circuit is even responsible for space travel, creating a digital revolution, which is thought by most to have changed mankind.

As stated, integrated circuits are created by placing a number of electronic components on one small chip. The first integrated circuits used small-scale integration (SSI), incorporating only a small number of transistors on a chip. Currently, integrated circuits contain thousands, even millions of transistors on a chip, known as large scale integration (LSI). In fact, a law has been created by computer chip maker, Intel, which states that the number of transistors incorporated into an integrated circuit doubles every two years. In turn, functionality and speed of the integrated circuit goes up, while cost per unit goes down. There is a threshold to the amount of functionality that can be achieved, which leads to fierce competition in the market to create a geometrically efficient and fast chip.

Researchers and scientists are constantly working to make chips faster and more functional for computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices. The integrated circuit has allowed computers to do much, much more, and the advances are continuing. Life would certainly be very different without integrated circuits to shape the way we may use digital technology. With further breakthroughs, there are numerous possibilities for what integrated circuits will allow us to do in the future.


Angela Oliver is an author for HRent.com, a wholesale distributor of integrated circuits and other electronic components. Please visit the site for a selection of hard to find electronic components for commercial, industrial, and military needs.

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