With today's microelectronics technology data is now collected from space by probes without the presence of man. Thomas Edison's discovery of thermionic emission opened the door to electronic technology. Progress was slow in the beginning, but each year brought new and more amazing discoveries. The development of vacuum tubes soon led to the simple radio. Then came more complex systems of communications. Modern systems now allow us to communicate with other parts of the world via satellite.

Sophisticated control systems allow us to operate equipment by remote control in hazardous situations, such as the handling of radioactive materials. We can remotely pilot aircraft from takeoff to landing. We can make course corrections to spacecraft millions of miles from Earth. Space flight, computers, and even video games would not be possible except for the advances made in this field.

The most significant step in modern electronics was the development of the transistor by Bell Laboratories in 1948. This development was to solid-state electronics what the Edison Effect was to the vacuum tube. The solid-state diode and the transistor opened the door to today's modern miniaturized electronic systems.

MICROELECTRONICS is defined as that area of technology associated with and applied to the realization of electronic systems made of extremely small electronic parts or elements. This term is normally associated with integrated circuits (IC). Miniaturized electronics are often thought to include only integrated circuits. However, many other types of circuits also fall into the small electronics category. These will be discussed in greater detail under solid-state devices later in this topic.

During World War II, the need to reduce the size, weight, and power of military electronic systems became important because of the increased use of these systems. As systems became more complex, their size, weight, and power requirements rapidly increased. The increases finally reached a point that was unacceptable, especially in aircraft and for infantry personnel who carried equipment in combat. These unacceptable factors were the driving force in the development of smaller, lighter, and more efficient electronic circuit components.

Such requirements continue to be important factors in the development of new systems, both for military and commercial markets. Military electronic systems, for example, continue to become more highly developed as their capability, reliability, and maintainability is increased. Progress in the development of military systems and steady advances in technology point to an ever-increasing need for increased technical knowledge of miniaturized electronics.


The earliest electronic circuits were fairly simple. They were composed of a few tubes, transformers, resistors, capacitors, and wiring. As more was learned by designers, they began to increase both the size and complexity of circuits. Component limitations were soon identified as this technology developed.

We will cover these components in detail in subsequent tutorials.

Example of miniature electronics on a circuit board.

Vacuum Tube equipment

Solid state devices and integrated circuits

Modern Microelectronics


Substrate Production

Fabrication of IC devices

Thin Film

Thick Film

Packaging Techniques

Flat Pack components

Packaging Developments

Equivalent circuits and the J-K Flip-flop

IC package lead identification

Design concepts

System Packaging

Interconnections in Printed Circuit Boards

Modular Assemblies

Environmental Considerations

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