The Evolution of the Microprocessor Essay

1947 Words 8 Pages
The Integrated Circuit:
The Evolution of an Electronic Miracle

The microprocessor evolved over the course of many years of research, and people all over the world enjoy the benefits of this electronic miracle. It is difficult to think of anything that has affected modern life more than this invention. Cellular phones, wristwatches, calculators, automobiles, stereos, televisions, and computers are just a few of the thousands of electronic devices that have a microchip at the heart of its operation. Over the years, three major breakthroughs occurred to accelerate the birth of the microprocessor: the vacuum tube, the transistor, and the integrated circuit.
The Vacuum Tube
American physicist Lee De Forest invented the vacuum tube in 1906.
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In 1907, he patented his bulb that had the same contents as the Fleming diode, except for the added electrode, and he is credited with the invention of the vacuum tube. This triode, called the Audion, was the first successful electronic amplifier that could also be used as a switch. Long distance communication became a reality as radio signals were amplified before they were transmitted, and receivers using the vacuum tubes amplified the incoming signal (Maxfield, Brown 1997)
The vacuum tube changed the way almost anything related to electricity or communications worked, especially in the area of digital computers. De Forest’s invention could control the flow of electrons inside the tube. This created the ability for electronic digital computers to use the zeros and ones of binary arithmetic to perform their operations. A zero could be represented by the absence of an electron current to the plate, and a small but detectable current served as a one (Sullivan et al, 1988). It was the beginning of today's huge electronics industry.
However, this revolutionary invention had its drawbacks. Tubes were bulky and generated much heat. Simple computers generated so much heat that cooling systems were needed to prevent overheating. Furthermore, the cooling systems

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