The electronics industry, from its start in telephones, to the development of the transistor, the microchip, and the microcontrollers embedded in automobiles, appliances, and power tools, has had a profound influence on telecommunications, entertainment, and the products people use everyday.
Modern electronics began with Alexander
The second great driver of electronics development was
Decoding the signal used two types of devices: the crystal detector, a primitive semiconductor that was often used by hobbyists, and the vacuum tube, a modified lightbulb originally developed by Thomas Alva Edison in 1882. In 1912 Lee
During World War I, the United States government seized all the American Marconi Company’s radio patents and stations, on the grounds of national security. After the war ended, several leading industries formed a new company to control that vital patent pool. The
Even as radio was taking American society by storm, Sarnoff was looking toward the possibility of transmitting images by radio waves. By 1928, primitive mechanical television systems had been demonstrated in the United States and abroad. Sarnoff knew such systems were a technological dead end and backed the all-electronic system of fellow Russian immigrant Vladimir Zworykin. At the same time, Mormon schoolboy Philo T.
Although De Forest had thought of his triode primarily as an amplifier, it was also a fast-acting electronic switch, capable of turning a current on and off hundreds of times a second. Properly wired together, vacuum tubes could perform calculations far more rapidly than any electromechanical system. However, vacuum tubes were fragile, and in computer operations, their usefulness was limited by their demand for power.
That solution was the
When Marcian Edward “Ted” Hoff, Jr., of Intel put all the circuits of a computer’s central processing unit on a single chip and created the
The microprocessor also made possible the embedded runtime controller, a small, cheap computer that could automate various aspects of the operation of ordinary devices such as automobile engines and home appliances. A
By the end of the twentieth century, the center of gravity of the electronics industry had shifted heavily toward the West Coast, particularly to the area south of San Francisco commonly known as Silicon Valley. Vast fortunes were made in the electronics industry, although it was hit hard by the burst of the dot-com bubble at the end of 2001.
Chandler, Alfred D., Jr. Inventing the Electronic Century: The Epic Story of the Consumer Electronics and Computer Industries. New York: Free Press, 2001. A general history of electronics and its impact on consumer products. Corbin, Alfred. The Third Element: A Brief History of Electronics. Bloomington, Ind.: AuthorHouse, 2006. Covers the industry from its beginnings in radio through the computer age. Looks at applications in music, timekeeping, medicine, and navigation. De Forest, Lee. Father of Radio: The Autobiography of Lee De Forest. Chicago: Wilcox and Follett, 1950. Primary source of the early days of radio. Riordan, Michael, and Lillian Hoddeson. Crystal Fire: The Birth of the Information Age. New York: W. W. Norton, 1997. Looks specifically at the use of the transistor and computer technology in various applications. Seitz, Frederick, and Norman G. Einspruch. Electronic Genie: The Tangled History of Silicon. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. Focuses on semiconductor electronics, although it contains some discussion of the vacuum tube age that preceded it.
Alexander Graham Bell
Digital recording technology
Thomas Alva Edison
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