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Integrated Circuit

Transistors were a tremendous breakthrough in advancing the computer.  However, no one could predict that thousands even now millions of transistors (circuits) could be compacted in such a small space.  The integrated circuit, or as it is sometimes referred to as semiconductor chip, packs a huge number of transistors onto a single wafer of silicon. Robert Noyce of Fairchild Corporation and Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments independently discovered the amazing attributes of integrated circuits.  Placing such large numbers of transistors on a single chip vastly increased the power of a single computer and lowered its cost considerably.

Since the invention of integrated circuits, the number of transistors that can be placed on a single chip has doubled every two years, shrinking both the size   and cost of computers even further and further enhancing its power.  Most electronic devices today use some form of integrated circuits placed on printed circuit boards-- thin pieces of bakelite or fiberglass that have electrical connections etched onto them -- sometimes called a mother board.

A picture of Robert Noyce, a co-inventor, is shown on the left.

These third generation computers could carry out instructions in billionths of a second. 

The size of these machines dropped to the size of small file cabinets.

Yet, the single biggest advancement in the computer era was yet to be discovered.

A picture of Jack Kilby, a co-inventor, is shown on the left.