Skip to Main Content

Electronics Engineers

History

The roots of electronics can be found in the 19th century. In the late 1800s, current moving through space was observed for the first time; this was called the "Edison effect." In the early 20th century, devices (such as vacuum tubes, which are pieces of metal inside a glass bulb) were invented that could transmit weak electrical signals, leading to the potential transmission of electromagnetic waves for communication, or radio broadcast. The unreliability of vacuum tubes led to the invention of equipment that could pass electricity through solid materials; hence transistors came to be known as solid-state devices.

In the 1960s, transistors were being built on tiny bits of silicon, creating the microchip. The computer industry is a major beneficiary of the creation of these circuits, because vast amounts of information can be stored on just one tiny chip smaller than a dime.

The invention of microchips led to the development of microprocessors. Microprocessors are silicon chips on which the logic and arithmetic functions of a computer are placed. Microprocessors serve as miniature computers and are used in many types of products. The miniaturization of electronic components allowed scientists and engineers to make smaller, lighter computers that could perform the same, or additional, functions of larger computers. They also allowed for the development of many new products. At first they were used primarily in desktop calculators, video games, digital watches, telephones, and microwave ovens. Today, microprocessors are used in electronic controls of automobiles, personal computers, mobile communications devices, MP3 and MP4 players, video games, telecommunications systems, and many other products. As a leader in advanced technology, the electronics industry is one of the most important industries today.

Related Professions