The crystal detectors used in early radios were the forerunners of modern solid-state devices. However, the era of solid-state electronics began with the invention of the transistor in 1947 at Bell Labs.

The inventors were Walter Brattain, John Bardeen, and William Shockley. PC (printed circuit) boards were introduced in 1947, the year the transistor was invented. Commercial manufacturing of transistors began in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 1951.

The most important invention of the 1950s was the integrated circuit. On September 12, 1958, Jack Kilby, at Texas Instruments, made the first integrated circuit. This invention literally created the modern computer age and brought about sweeping changes in medicine, communication, manufacturing, and the entertainment industry.

Many billions of "chips"-as integrated circuits came to be called-have since been manufactured. The 1960s saw the space race begin and spurred work on miniaturization and computers.

The space race was the driving force behind the rapid changes in electronics that followed. The first successful "op-amp" was designed by Bob Widlar at Fairchild Semiconductor in 1965. Called the flA709, it was very successful but suffered from "latch-up" and other problems.

Later, the most popular op-amp ever, the 741, was taking shape at Fairchild. This opamp became the industry standard and influenced design of op-amps for years to come.

By 1971, a new company that had been formed by a group from Fairchild introduced the first microprocessor. The company was Intel and the product was the 4004 chip, which had the same processing power as the Eniac computer.

Later in the same year, Intel announced the first 8-bit processor, the 8008. In 1975, the first personal computer was introduced by Altair, and Popular Science magazine featured it on the cover of the January, 1975, issue.

The 1970s also saw the introduction of the pocket calculator and new developments in optical integrated circuits.

By the 1980s, half of all U.S. homes were using cable hookups instead of television antennas. The reliability, speed, and miniaturization of electronics continued throughout the 1980s, including automated testing and calibrating of PC boards. The computer became a part of instrumentation and the virtual instrument was created. Computers became a standard tool on the workbench.

The 1990s saw a widespread application of the Internet. In 1993, there were 130 websites, and now there are millions. Companies scrambled to establish a home page and many of the early developments of radio broadcasting had parallels with the Internet.

In 1995, the FCC allocated spectrum space for a new service called Digital Audio Radio Service. Digital television standards were adopted in 1996 by the FCC for the nation's next generation of broadcast television.

The 21st century dawned in January 2001. One of the major technology stories has been the continuous and explosive growth of the Internet. Internet usage in North America has increased by over 100% from 2000 to 2005.

The rest of the world experienced almost 200% growth during the same period. The processing speed of computers is increasing at a steady rate and data storage media capacity is increasing at an amazing pace. Carbon nanotubes are seen to be the next step forward for computer chips, eventually replacing transistor technology.

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