Electronics: The Life Story of a Technology

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004 - Technology & Engineering - 201 pages
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Electronics is the first book of its kind--a comprehensive account of the history of one of the late 20th century's greatest technologies--the field of electron devices. Some of these devices, the laser and the microchip for example, have become household words, but their origins and operation are largely unknown to the general public. Other devices that form the heart of important electronic systems are virtually unknown outside the field of engineering. Electronics is the first book to survey the histories of all these devices, showing how they relate to each other and to the world we live in. This work will be accessible to those without a technical background, but is precise enough for an engineer.

The development of electronic devices was central to many of the most important historical events of the last 50 years, such as the introduction of television, Cold War, the Space Race, the rise of Asian semiconductor manufacturers, and the emergence of the surveillance society--this book explores them all. In addition, Electronics examines the fascinating stories of how scientists and engineers created these devices in the first place: One organization, the Bell Telephone Laboratories, was responsible for either the invention or, perhaps more importantly, the commercialization of many of the most important advances in the field.

The book explains the origins and impact of a series of now-familiar technologies, including the Magnetron tube used to power microwave ovens, the CRT (television and computer display), the laser, the first integrated circuit, the microprocessor, and memory chips. The transistor--a single invention created to solve a specific engineering problem--was taken up by numerous researchers and transformed a technology--the so-called semiconductor devices--with an astonishing breadth of applications and a nearly ubiquitous presence. The book includes a timeline and a bibliography for those interested in learning more about the history of electron devices.


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The Origins of Electronics 19001950
From Tubes to Semiconductors
Microchips and Lasers
The Peak Years
The Triumph of Microelectronics
Further Reading

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About the author (2004)

DAVID L. MORTON JR. is a historian of technology with expertise in the history of sound recording, electronics, and electric power. He is the former Research Historian for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the author of two books in the Greenwood Technographies series.

JOSEPH GABRIEL is a doctoral candidate in the department at the State University of New Jersey, Rutgers.

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