Did you know that in 1958 Jack Kilby tested the first integrated circuit? Before the invention of integrated circuits or ‘microchips’, it was very difficult to create complex or small computers because the available parts were large, fragile, or needed to be assembled by hand (which led to many mistakes). Integrated circuits were smaller and could be accurately built by machines. You can find integrated circuits in most modern electrical devices such as computers, TVs, mobile phones, tablets, digital watches, and more.
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ENIAC, the first digital computer was created before integrated circuits. It used about 18,000 vacuum tubes (which constantly burned out) and weighed more than 30 tons.
The transistor was invented in 1949. While better than vacuum tubes, circuits using transistors still needed to be meticulously built by hand. If the components or connecting wires were not installed correctly, the circuit would not work. The chances for creating a bad circuit were very high. As a result, the likelihood of creating a complex computer without any faulty circuits was very low.
Jack Kilby developed his idea for his monolithic circuit while others in his lab were on vacation. He was allowed to test his idea of making all the components of the circuit out of the same material. His idea worked! Later in 2000, Kilby was awarded the Nobel Prize for his part in developing the integrated circuit.
For more information about the integrated circuit, click here.