Electronics are all around us. Developments in electronics regularly produce huge effects on society and change the way we work, relax and communicate with each other. You are undoubtedly reading this article using an electronic device, and you travel in vehicles that use electronic devices in myriad ways. Our hospitals and schools are reliant upon electronic devices to work smoothly. Here are some of the innovations that created watershed moments in the development of electronics. Not only did these innovations drive changes in electronics: they also quite literally changed the world.
The simplest electronic circuits use direct current (DC) arrangements. DC is where the polarity of a current remains constant. Although simple, DC is inefficient and, when used in high voltage applications, quite dangerous. The invention of alternating current (AC) was a huge step forward. The actual inventor of AC is disputed, although many people believe that either Nicola Tesla or Hippolyte Pixii were the true fathers of the technology. AC power constantly switches polarity and is extremely useful in all sorts of applications.
It is not an overstatement to say that the invention of the transistor completely changed the world. You would not be reading this article if it were not for the transistor. Why? The answer is miniaturization. Electronic components need different levels of current in order to work. Current has to be moderated after it is received from a power source; otherwise, a component will not work properly. In the past, large valves were used to do this work. Valves are fragile and expensive – completely unsuitable for anything small or portable. The introduction of transistors allowed for the creation of ‘solid state’ electronics. Transistors could be made that moderated electrical current in small, cheap, and durable devices. Transistors come in all shapes and sizes and are manufactured and distributed by a great many companies. If you are looking for a specific transistor for a project, try using a Mouser part search engine online.
The internet changed human society. Almost every corner of the world has been affected by the internet, which was originally conceived in the 1900s, invented in the 1960s, and made useful to the public in the 1990s. A landmark event in the history of the internet was launching the first website, which Tim Berners Lee uploaded at CERN in 1991, and contained information about hypertext.
The Electric Motor
The electric motor is a highly efficient method of converting electrical energy into kinetic motion. Electric motors produce lots of torque and very little heat in comparison to steam or internal combustion-driven motors. Although first invented in the 18th Century – possibly by Benjamin Franklin – the first electric motors that were able to power machinery were created in the 19th Century by pioneering engineers William Sturgeon and Thomas Davenport. These motors were powered using electromagnetic attraction and repulsion principles, which are still the principles that are used for powering electric motors today.