When computers were first invented each component had to be made and fitted by hand. This mean that computers were hugely expensive, very large (the size of a room or larger), and prone to bugs.
All this changed in 1961 with the invention of the integrated circuit and it paved the way for a revolution in computer design and manufacturing.
Integrated circuits are electronic circuits formed from a single silicon wafer. Onto this wafer thousands, millions or even billions of components (such as diodes, resistors and transistors) are individually etched, using a highly precise computerised manufacturing process.
This wafer is then mounted into a housing that includes legs, allowing the chip to be fitted into a large device. Most modern computers contain 100s of integrated circuits.
How ICs are made
Advantage of integrated circuits
- They are much cheaper than if you were to make the circuits out of individual components
- They can be mass produces very quickly and accurately
- The are millions of times smaller than non-integrated circuits.
- They can be replaced easily