Today, integrated circuits are critical to the functioning of all types of electronics. They are used not only in computers, televisions and other electronics, but also in automobiles, aviation and in other industries. An integrated circuit (IC) unit is usually designed for a specific task and could be made up of hundreds of thousands of transistors and other components.
Some of the examples of special purpose IC’s include audio-amplifiers, FM radios, micro computers and regulators. An entire micro computer can be developed to create a micro controller that could be installed to control the functioning of different types of electronics or machines including cars.
The concept of the integrated circuit was first conceived by Geoffrey Dummer while he was a radar scientist for the Royal Radar Establishment of the UK. He presented his ideas to the public in Washington, D.C. in 1952. Besides propagating his ideas through several symposia, he made an unsuccessful attempt in 1956 to build the circuit.
In 1949, Werner Jacobi of Germany filed a patent for a semiconductor amplifying device that had many similarities to an integrated circuit. It featured 5 transistors on the same substrate in a 3-stage amplifier arrangement. He wanted to use the technology in the creation of cheaper and smaller hearing aids.
The first commercially available IC was however developed by the Fairchild Semiconductor Corp in 1961. The chips developed were used in the construction of computers, replacing traditional transistors and other parts. Integrated circuits came into existence as a result of many experiments and discoveries that demonstrated that semiconductor devices are capable of performing all the functions of vacuum tubes.
The IC technology involved the integration of thousands of transistors on a single chip. There were many advantages to the new technology that let to its widespread application. It could be mass produced, it was reliable and it followed a building-block approach to designing circuits. Eventually, it proved to be a better alternative to the application of different transistors.