Integrated Circuit (IC) Explained — Everything You Need to Know

3 Facts about the Circuit

  • The Integrated Circuit was technically developed and invented by three different individuals, all unaware of each other’s work. Geoffrey Dummer conceptualized the design, Robert Noyce was granted the first patent, and Jack Kilby’s application was being reviewed while the first patent was granted. 
  • Integrated circuits differ from their predecessors in that integrated circuits remove the need for transistors, resistors, diodes, capacitors, and wires by using silicon boards and soldering. 
  • Each circuit’s function can be described by a design diagram, which uses symbols to show electrical flow and logic controls. 
Robert Noyce (left) and Jack Kilby
Robert Noyce (left) and Jack Kilby | Image: Intel and Texas Instruments
Geoffrey Dummer black and white picture
Geoffrey Dummer

Circuit History

The need for the integrated circuit (IC) was driven by the need for smaller and smaller components. Prior to British scientist Geoffrey Dummer’s (one inventor of the IC) first IC design the size of a device was limited by the ability to fit as many components into the circuit board as possible. Wires, transistors, and all the other components that make up the circuit needed to work together to function properly, and the size of the components determined the size of the device. The importance of the integrated circuit (IC) is in its ability to allow for the miniaturization of components. Smaller components means smaller overall size, which allowed for the creation of almost every device we use today from smart TVs to cell phones. Interestingly enough, all three original inventors of the integrated circuit (IC) had backgrounds working with radar technology. 

Circuit: How It Worked

Traditional circuits are composed of groups of wires, transistors, and other components. Integrated circuits differ in that several components are replaced with silicon particleboard, a different type of board than what was being used at the time. By using silicon the size of the board was reduced even further by reducing the need for transistors, resistors, diodes, and capacitors. The size was further reduced by eliminating the need for wires as these parts could all be soldered to the silicon board. 

Jack Kilby created an integrated circuit in 1960 while working with Texas Instruments. Unfortunately for Jack Kilby (and for Geoffrey Dummer), Robert Noyce had already applied for a patent of his design for the first integrated circuit in 1959, which was granted in 1961. 

The original integrated circuit of Jack Kilby
The original integrated circuit of Jack Kilby

Circuit: Historical Significance

Integrated circuits serve a crucial function in the history of scientific inventions and the advancement of technology as a whole. Reducing the size of critical computing components of varying types paved the way for the creation of a multitude of other devices. Without the integrated circuit there might not be the slim smartphones everyone carries in their pockets, cars might not have many of the bells and whistles that come standard in most models, and many other technologies we consider conveniences and part of everyday life may either not exist or look completely different.

The Texas Instruments SN514 integrated circuit
The Texas Instruments SN514 integrated circuit

The largest proponent and first enthusiast of integrated circuits were the United States military, which was a symbol of technological advancement when the IC was invented. The importance of having the backing of the military meant what it usually does for technologies; massive amounts of funding, and endless spin offs of inventions adapted for civilian use from military technologies. 

 
 

 
 

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Integrated Circuit (IC) Explained — Everything You Need to Know FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is in an integrated circuit?

An integrated circuit is a way of circuits that eliminates the need for several components through the use of silicon board and soldering for electrical conduction. 

What does IC mean on a circuit board?

IC stands for integrated circuit. This specifically refers to the use of condensed circuitry instead of the older methods of creating circuits with wires, transistors, and other components all adding to the size of the overall circuit board. 

What is the circuit number of IC?

Circuit numbers when referring to integrated circuits refers to the logic gates and functionality of that particular circuit. 

How does an integrated circuit work?

Integrated circuits work by removing the need for transistors, resistors, diodes, capacitors, and wires by instead using silicon boards and soldering.

What are integrated circuit examples?

There are several different types of integrated circuits that serve a variety of functions. From audio amplification to voltage regulation, and even logic circuits, each circuit has its own function. Every circuit also has a circuit design diagram with various symbols that explain its functions. 

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