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  • Without the chip, man could not explore space or fly to the moon.
  • The chip restructured communications, fostering a host of new ways for instant exchanges of information between people, businesses and nations.
  • The chip helps the deaf to hear and is the heartbeat of a myriad of medical diagnostic machines.
  • The chip has also touched education, transportation, manufacturing and entertainment.
  • The integrated circuit has enabled an entire industry to grow and is projected to become the world's single largest industry.
obsolete integrated circuit

The History of the Integrated Circuit

First Came the Transistor

transistorsThe transistor was invented in 1947 by a team of Bell Laboratories scientists who were trying to find a replacement for the vacuum tube. The vacuum tube, which up to that time had been used for radio and early telephone equipment, television, and computers, was not only large, but inefficient and expensive. John Bardeen and Walter Brattain, both of whom had been researching the properties of semiconductors, and William Shockley, whose specialty was solid state physics, launched a series of experiments aimed at using solid material rather than a vacuum tube to amplify electronic signals. The trio of scientists won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1956.

Today, transistor-based technology runs everything from microwaves and cell phone to powerful communication networks around the world. Today, Lucent Technologies Microelectronics Group makes some of the smallest and fastest transistors in the world, packing as many as 5 million transistors on a single chip and 200 chips on a single 8-inch wafer.

The Invention of the Integrated Circuit

integrated circuitBy 1958 the transistor was in wide use, however it didn't take long for the limits of the transistor to be met and soon manufacturers were looking for something even more compact and efficient to use in newer electronics.

In 1958 and 1959, Jack Kilby at Texas Instruments and Robert Noyce at Fairchild Camera, came up with a solution to the problem of large numbers of components, and the integrated circuit was developed.

Instead of making transistors one-by-one, several transistors could be made at the same time, on the same piece of semiconductor. Not only transistors, but other electric components such as resistors, capacitors and diodes could be made by the same process with the same materials.

Originally it was thought that integrated circuits would be useful only in military applications, and many microprocessor investors pulled out before the work was completed. However time has proven the integrated circuit to be greatly undervalued.