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Integrated Circuits (ICs)

Integration of multiple devices onto a single piece of semiconductor
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Description

The integrated circuit is the building block of almost all technology today. It is a small square or rectangle of semiconductor material, often silicon, that contains electronic circuits laid down or grown to do computation or other tasks. The concept was to embed a number of transistors and other devices onto a single piece of silicon and to form the interconnections within the silicon itself. Before the integrated circuit, electronic components, such as transistors, resistors, diodes, inductors, and capacitors, were manually wired together on a board. The integrated circuit allowed for more powerful, lightweight, miniaturized applications by integrating components onto one chip of material.

The three main types of integrated circuits are analog, digital and mixed signal circuits.

In 1959 Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments received U.S. patent #3,138,743 for miniaturized electronic circuits and Robert Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor received U.S. patent #2,981,877 for a silicon based integrated circuit. After several years of legal battles (up until 1966), the two companies decided to cross license each others patent and the IC industry was born.

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