More than sixty years ago, Jack Kilby changed the future of the world by inventing an Integrated Circuit. At the time when the integrated circuit was invented, no one had an idea what this invention could do to the world. The thought of this circuit changing the way of almost everything hadn’t even passed the minds of people, but here it is today, developed and even better than its initial form.
What is an Integrated Circuit?
An integrated circuit, also known as a monolithic integrated circuit, is a set of different electronic circuits on a flat semiconductor material such as silicon. In an integrated circuit, all the elements of the circuit are electrically interconnected and associated.
Today, integrated circuits are constructed using several different technologies, such as thick-film technologies, thin-film transistors, and hybrid integrated circuits. The major technological advancements in the MOS (metal-oxide-silicon) semiconductor device fabrication made the idea of integrated circuits practical.
Since the 1960s, integrated circuits have changed regarding their speed, size and with all the advancements in technology, these integrated circuits or chips can fit more MOS transistors of the same size.
Following Moore’s law, these technological advancements have enabled computer chips to have fast speeds and massive capacities.
How Did Integrated Circuits Come Into Being?
Jack St. Clair Kilby came up with one of the greatest inventions of all time in 1958. His invention was a bend in the history of the world. Kilby first started working as an electrical engineer at Texas Instruments. While everyone had left to enjoy a summer break, Kilby stayed at the lab and worked days and nights combining a capacitor, three resistors, and a transistor on one piece of germanium.
After months of work and research, finally, on the 12th of September 1958, Kilby showed his invention to his boss.
The first-ever integrated circuit had wires sticking out of it, and it looked like someone had glued a cockroach on a glass slide. This integrated circuit was only a half-inch long and wasn’t too wide.
After this invention, in January 1959, another engineer Robert Noyce worked on the same idea. Noyce, however, used the photographic printing technique known as the “Planar Process.” This technique used glass as the insulation instead of using germanium. This way, the aluminum wires could easily be deposited above the silicon transistors, making all the wires sticking out in Kilby’s integrated circuit get into a proper shape. Now that the messy wires were gone, the integrated circuit became manufacturable.
In 1960, the first integrated circuit/chip named Type 502 Flip Flop was introduced by TI. This was basically an integrated chip that had only one bit of memory that cost $450 each. Later, Fairchild – where Noyce used to work – introduced their own integrated chip. The US Air Force later used these chips or circuits in 1961, and soon several computer companies, as well as NASA, started using these integrated circuits. These circuits were also used in the Apollo rockets.
With time, the storage capacity of these chips kept increasing; from one bit, it turned to four, then sixteen, which increased to sixty-four, and this increment hasn’t stopped till today. This wasn’t the only thing that changed about these integrated circuits; their size started shrinking and got smaller and even smaller with time.
Impact of the Integrated Circuit on the World
The integrated circuits paved the way for almost all the technological advancements we have today. These circuits/chips revolutionized the electronic industry, from CD players to any electronic household appliance, everything started depending on integrated circuits in no time.
Not just that, this rapid popularity of integrated chips also helped bring all kinds of advanced electronics to every part of the world. Moreover, the popularity and wide range of uses made these chips cheaper, and soon enough, they were available for as little as one dollar each.
The use of Integrated circuits in Apollo rockets made a huge market for these circuits. Companies like Westinghouse and Motorola rushed up to Texas Instruments and Fairchild to access integrated circuits. They were even referred to as “impending revolution in the electronics industry” by Business Week magazine.
This revolution made by the integrated circuits enhanced living standards in several different ways. Not just did it create millions of jobs for people, but it also allowed people to own computers that were cheap and smaller in size. The computers that were once massive could now fit on a small table.
Machines started running better and smoother; technology was now saving lives. It wasn’t just the machinery that changed; even the ways of banking converted from old, slow ones to banking through electronic networks that had no geographical restrictions.
The developing countries were able to use integrated circuits to bring more technology to their countries, which decreased the capital investment cost required for development and industrialization. And this is how many countries were able to compete in the global market.
If we talk about today, we adjusted with this rapid change, and everything from the washing machine in our house to the bar code scanner in the superstore has something to do with integrated circuits directly or indirectly.
Integrated circuits are why we have access to microelectronics which are all about the ever-increasing information. Integrated circuits are there to process and store unlimited information, and today they are redefining power. Integrated circuits control everything from people’s private lives to public matters.
Why Do We Need Integrated Circuits?
Integrated circuits have so many uses that we cannot even think of extracting them out of our lives anymore. Here are the reasons why we need integrated circuits instead of any other kind of technology:
- They are tiny in size, making miniaturization easier.
- They weigh almost nothing because of their smaller size. Being able to store a large amount of information in a tiny chip reduces the whole weight of any device or machine.
- Mass production of integrated circuits/chips also reduces the cost making it affordable for anyone.
- They are highly reliable because of the lack of soldered connections in integrated circuits. With fewer interconnections and almost zero temperature rise lowers down the failure rate.
- Integrated circuits can easily be replaced, making repairing machines, computers, and other appliances easier.
- Integrated circuits do not require high power to work. With smaller size comes smaller power consumption.
Integrated circuits have changed the world and everything in our lives. In the past 60 years, it has become a significant part of our lives, and the whole future of technology depends on this little circuit. Because of all these benefits, integrated circuits have found their way in everything, including Mp3, televisions, microwaves, laptops, cars, gaming consoles, cellular phones, airplanes, cameras, space crafts, and literally any portable device.
These integrated circuits are also majorly used in data processing and switching of telephone circuits. Another major use of IC is in the scientific calculators for performing basic mathematical functions, such as multiplication, addition, subtraction, division, etc.
With all these uses, it is near impossible to have any development in the technology industry. Even the remote control we use to turn on the TV has an integrated circuit fit.