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What do you consider to be the biggest technological advancement for electrical components?

Displaying poll results.
Light bulbs
  7% 15 votes
Vacuum tubes
  10% 21 votes
Crystal oscillators
  1% 4 votes
Transistors
  49% 101 votes
Integrated Circuits
  19% 40 votes
EEPROMs
0% 0 votes
LEDs
  4% 9 votes
Other (Specify)
  7% 15 votes
205 total votes.
[ Voting Booth | Other Polls | Back Home ]
  • Don't complain about lack of options. You've got to pick a few when you do multiple choice. Those are the breaks.
  • Feel free to suggest poll ideas if you're feeling creative. I'd strongly suggest reading the past polls first.
  • This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.
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(1)
  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by dltaylor on Friday November 16, @11:19AM (7 children)

    by dltaylor (4693) on Friday November 16, @11:19AM (#762646)

    Once transistors were "mature", shrinking them was just process improvements. As the process improved further, packaging more than one per die was a no-brainer, and interconnecting the multiple on-die devices was also obvious, IMO, the "microprocessor patent" was completely bogus, since it was not a new idea, but simply needed the process to be able to package all of the needed components on one die, rather than the several needed until then. Remember, please, that the "inventor" of the microprocessor never made one.

    • (Score: 2) by zocalo on Friday November 16, @06:51PM

      by zocalo (302) on Friday November 16, @06:51PM (#762807)
      I was torn between those two options, but had pretty much the same reasoning. Logic gates were already a thing because of valves, so going from a transitor as an SKU to a logic gate as an SKU seems almost inevitable, and if you accept that then the next logical step would have to be multiple gates on the same chip (e.g. the TTL LS series of chips, et al). After that, going to more complex circuits, and ultimately CPUs, seems like it would be just a matter of time.
      --
      UNIX? They're not even circumcised! Savages!
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Saturday November 17, @08:27PM (5 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday November 17, @08:27PM (#763197)

      Everything is inevitable in hindsight.

      Discrete transistors were cool, but they were just a small leap forward from tubes. Fitting 800 million transistors into a fingernail sized chip? That's orders of magnitude bigger of a change in capability.

      • (Score: 1) by shrewdsheep on Wednesday November 21, @04:26PM (2 children)

        by shrewdsheep (5215) on Wednesday November 21, @04:26PM (#764791)

        I read a book about the history of electronics recently. What fascinated me was that after ICs got started, the race was on to emulate every thinkable electric component using ICs: relay (that's the transistor), resistor, capacitors, impedance and we are still not finished: antennas, all kinds of sensors. As somebody else mentioned on SN, we are on our way to the tricoder - in the end it will be an implantable IC.

        Therefore, my vote went wholeheartedly for IC.

        • (Score: 4, Informative) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday November 21, @07:09PM (1 child)

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday November 21, @07:09PM (#764898)

          I did an interview once where they quizzed me on miniaturization and low-costing of various circuits. We came to the inductor as one of the remaining hard-cases to make small and cheap - there are some printed circuit methods to get limited inductance with multi-layer processes, but if you need a really stout L value (not just inductance-like behavior in a transfer function) you still need a real coil.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, @05:47AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, @05:47AM (#767219)

            Same applies to capacitors. You can get small values on die, but nothing huge. Inductors are the same, you can get small values on die, but nothing huge. By huge, I'm talking about useful values for power handling purposes.

      • (Score: 2) by Nuke on Friday December 07, @08:42PM (1 child)

        by Nuke (3162) on Friday December 07, @08:42PM (#771297)

        Discrete transistors were cool, but they were just a small leap forward from tubes

        There is no direct physical link or line of development between tubes and transistors; but there is such between transistors and ICs.

        Before ICs, it was common to put low power cicuits, with transistors, coils, resistors and capacitors, all together in a pot and fill it with setting epoxy resin, leaving only the external connecting wires sticking out. I have old audio kit in my attic where you can see that. These were effectively integrated circuits, just rather large ones at typically a couple of cubic inches. At first "potting" was like an afterthought, done a bit amateurishly, but it did not take a genius to design components specifically to be put in a small protective envelope that we now call an IC. OTOH you could consider the inventions of the vacuum tube and of the transistor as genius.

        --
        Qualifications : English 5th-Grade (Failed)
        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday December 07, @09:47PM

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday December 07, @09:47PM (#771313)

          In macro-theory, tubes and transistors are both voltage controlled switches. Of course tubes require much higher voltages and have all different kinds of leakage characteristics and non-linearities compared with transistors, but... end of day, they're both VCSs.

          It's one thing to say that a microchip is just a bunch of discrete transistors, because the same basic principles and materials used control their switching, but the whole photo-lithographic process that implements a discrete transistor on an almost arbitrarily small scale on a substrate, reliably enough to have hundreds of millions of them laid out in logical circuits... that's quite an enabling leap, even if it looks obvious in hindsight.

          I worked in a factory stuffing resistors, capacitors and transistors into PCBs in 1987... being able to do that through photo-lithography instead of hand assembly is just about as revolutionary as Gutenburg's printing press as compared to manual copying. Without the photo-lithography we might have eventually developed robotic PCB stuffers, but I'd argue that the micro-chips made from photolithography were a necessary prerequisite to have practical / affordable robotic PCB stuffers. If you've seen the movie Hugo, (spoiler alert) the writing automaton was technically possible with gears and springs, but such a device is much less costly and difficult to make with micro-circuits, and much more capable of varied output.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Thexalon on Friday November 16, @03:57PM (1 child)

    by Thexalon (636) on Friday November 16, @03:57PM (#762720) Homepage

    The development of the first consistent electrical generators by Michael Faraday, Anyos Jedlik, et al. Without those, none of the rest of this happens.

    --
    A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of bad gravy.
    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday November 17, @08:30PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday November 17, @08:30PM (#763198)

      Chemical batteries could have taken us a long way, and probably would have accelerated the logical circuit side of electronics development, if generators had waited in the wings for a few decades more.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by DannyB on Friday November 16, @05:07PM (6 children)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 16, @05:07PM (#762739)

    I would rather have been able to vote for Semiconductors over Transistors. There are many types of semiconductor devices other than transistors. Semiconductors required an understanding of quantum mechanical phenomena. (Yet some people say we don't need pure basic research for its own sake.)

    For example, there is a modern one (IGBT [wikipedia.org]) with 4 alternating P/N layers that switches high power loads, efficiently1, and fast enough to do good pulse width modulation. Notice how Power Inverters (12 DV to 110 VAC) once were massive, expensive, had limited power, and hugely gigantic and heavy transformers. Now a 100 W inverter is the size of a car cigarette lighter insert (eg, 12 DC socket) with a 110 VAC outlet on the other end. Not only 60 Hz sine waves, but a lot of waveforms these days are synthesized. Thanks to semiconductors.

    Then LEDs. These are another important semiconductor. (look at your OLED smartphone)

    It turns out all diodes can actually be light emitting -- at least once. Then I turn my attention to light emitting resistors. At that point the principle investigator's wife insisted that further experiments on light emitting resistors must be moved to the garage.

    ICs are another important application of semiconductors. Such as Intel's revolutionary 8008 microprocessor [wikipedia.org] in 1972. It had 14 external address lines. So you could address up to 16 K -- and that ought to be enough for anybody!

    1efficiently: using as few fish as possible

    --
    ALL LIABILITY IS EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMED FOR PERSONAL INJURY OR DEATH THAT RESULTS FROM READING THE SOURCE CODE.
    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Saturday November 17, @08:36PM (1 child)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday November 17, @08:36PM (#763199)

      Semiconductors required an understanding of quantum mechanical phenomena.

      Understanding not required. We may not yet understand the true "first principles" by which anything works. All that is required is to know how to reproduce desired behavior, bonus points if you can develop multi-dimensional behavioral control with your knowledge of how to make things happen.

      Carpenters using span tables don't need to know how to calculate stresses in a beam, and even the makers of the span tables don't really need to know that, nor do they use engineering/physics formulae exclusively in the development of span tables - experimental testing is a huge part of the final answer of: how does this material behave when loaded. Very similar approaches are used where the doping agents meet the semiconductors. We _think_ we have an understanding of the quantum processes underpinning the behaviors, but those are just a rough guide to what really happens in a 7nm process.

      • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Wednesday November 28, @09:16PM

        by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday November 28, @09:16PM (#767496) Journal

        Understanding not required.

        Understanding very definitely required. Without a sufficient understanding of quantum mechanics, even the idea of the transistor would have been impossible. It's not something you find by accident.

        We may not yet understand the true "first principles" by which anything works.

        Understanding does not necessarily mean understanding the first principles. If you only consider someone to understand computers if you understand it from first principles, then you probably can count the number of people who understand computers on one hand. There are probably not many people who have in-depth knowledge of everything in semiconductor physics, integrated circuits, chip design, processor design, computer architecture, motherboard layout, the various bus systems, assembly programming, compiler technology, all programming languages used in the computer, operating system design, GPU programming, …

        --
        The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: 4, Funny) by Dr Spin on Sunday November 18, @08:06PM (3 children)

      by Dr Spin (5239) on Sunday November 18, @08:06PM (#763595)

      It turns out all diodes can actually be light emitting -- at least once.
      I think you are confusing them with smoke emitting diodes.

      --
      Putting your data in the cloud is like sending your teenage daughter backpacking in a 3rd world country with a pimp
      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Monday November 19, @03:25PM

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 19, @03:25PM (#763886)

        If it emits smoke before it emits light, then you have miscalculated your power supply design.

        --
        ALL LIABILITY IS EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMED FOR PERSONAL INJURY OR DEATH THAT RESULTS FROM READING THE SOURCE CODE.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, @06:16PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, @06:16PM (#764858)

        Oh, yes: my favourite was the the 1N000 - colour coded with three black bands on a black background!

        • (Score: 2) by driverless on Thursday November 22, @11:13AM

          by driverless (4770) on Thursday November 22, @11:13AM (#765143)

          my favourite was the the 1N000 - colour coded with three black bands on a black background!

          Gawd, that was old germanium point-contact stuff, nowadays we're on silicon 2N000's.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, @10:03PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, @10:03PM (#762862)

    Point contact diode got the ball rolled, from there transitor were a matter of time

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday November 17, @08:39PM (1 child)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday November 17, @08:39PM (#763201)

      Og with his flint and dry kindling in the cave got the ball rolling, everything up through and beyond hydrogen bombs was inevitable from there, in hindsight.

      • (Score: 2) by Webweasel on Tuesday November 20, @08:32PM

        by Webweasel (567) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 20, @08:32PM (#764390) Homepage Journal

        I guess Og would actually be the ultimate OG.

        --
        Priyom.org Number stations, Russian Military radio. "You are a bad, bad man. Do you have any other virtues?"-Runaway1956
  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by isj on Saturday November 17, @01:11AM

    by isj (5249) on Saturday November 17, @01:11AM (#762916) Homepage

    Which lead to motors and dynamos.
    Before that you only had static electricity and batteries. You could move frog legs and electro-plate stuff, but electricity was mostly a curiosity.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by SomeGuy on Saturday November 17, @04:39AM (4 children)

    by SomeGuy (5632) on Saturday November 17, @04:39AM (#762960)

    Ok, I don't know what "component" one would use to classify a refrigerator, but it really did change how people ate.

    It occurred to me recently that big corporations would love for us to get rid of our personal refrigerators. With the recent pushes to increase personal delivery services, companies could make a killing if you had to buy your food directly from them each time you wanted to eat.

    Think of it as putting your food "in the cloud". :P Only the big corps would own massive refrigerators and you wouldn't NEED your own as your food would be quickly delivered at a press of a button or on a schedule. Massive advertising campaign declaring fridges are dead and expensive and hard to maintain (not expensive and hard to maintain? Oh buy a few laws to fix that... got to upgrade that refrigerant again!). Don't worry about dietary or health requirements, they will take care of that for you too! You can't be too safe, think of the children! Those pesky caned goods or twinkies that will last for years? Oh, add the equivalent of food DRM somehow. It's "organic" and good for the planet!

    The thought of this makes me hope consumertards stay obsessed with their cell phones and blue LEDs for a while longer.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 17, @12:07PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 17, @12:07PM (#763057)

      You can decide what you feel like eating when you're hungry rather than when you're in the store.

      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday November 20, @10:11PM

        by c0lo (156) on Tuesday November 20, @10:11PM (#764422)

        You can decide what you feel like eating

        I don't know why I have this feeling that 'feel like eating' and 'actually eating' are two very different things.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday November 17, @08:42PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday November 17, @08:42PM (#763202)

      There's a historic house / State park in Coconut Grove, Miami. Nice place, waterfront, central location. They purchased one of the early refrigerators, with the compressor on top. Paid more for that refrigerator than the house and land were worth at the time.

      People are unlikely to become dumb enough to give up control of their food supply, at least not for another couple of generations of cell phone users.

    • (Score: 2) by driverless on Thursday November 22, @11:16AM

      by driverless (4770) on Thursday November 22, @11:16AM (#765144)

      Think of it as putting your food "in the cloud".

      Only if you've been eating burritos, or perhaps curry.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by VLM on Saturday November 17, @06:26PM (7 children)

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Saturday November 17, @06:26PM (#763166)

    You get nothing without vacuum tubes. Everything else on the list follows from "vacuum tubes are cool but kinda suck in certain ways so how about something like a tube with different characteristics ..."

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 17, @08:03PM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 17, @08:03PM (#763195)

      Vacuum tubes are still used in satellites and musical instruments for amplification.

      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday November 19, @12:43PM (3 children)

        by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 19, @12:43PM (#763860)

        satellites

        Traveling wave tubes, yeah. Kinda getting pushed out by solid state amps. Would not be surprised to see the end of TWTs in a decade or so.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by RS3 on Monday November 19, @11:10PM (2 children)

          by RS3 (6367) on Monday November 19, @11:10PM (#764059)

          Almost every house has a microwave oven which is powered by, get ready for it: a vacuum tube, the magnetron https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavity_magnetron [wikipedia.org]

          I'm trying to envision the size and cost of a transistor-based RF amplifier that could do the same job (up to 1 KW RF output @ 2.45 GHz).

          Oh, and large radio / TV station transmitters are mostly powered by vacuum tubes.

          And still much very large power switching is done with ignitrons https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignitron [wikipedia.org]

          And large mercury-arc rectifiers are still in use.

          Let's not forget the traveling-wave tube https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traveling-wave_tube [wikipedia.org]

          Nor the klystron: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klystron [wikipedia.org]

          Just for fun, the nuvistor https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuvistor [wikipedia.org]

          • (Score: 2) by VLM on Tuesday November 20, @01:25PM (1 child)

            by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 20, @01:25PM (#764231)

            I'm trying to envision the size and cost of a transistor-based RF amplifier that could do the same job (up to 1 KW RF output @ 2.45 GHz).

            That price has collapsed over recent decades.

            Your comments are true in a general sense thats slightly obsolete, but consider surplus markets. From memory the most recent "previous generation" of RF power amps to hit the surplus market that used vacuum tubes were those FAA control tower "dual use" amps that worked on AM civilian and military aviation freqs that sold REALLY well to ham ops about 30 years ago as surplus because the ham 2M band is between aviation civilian and military bands and they tuned down to 6M with little work (and worked pretty well on 220 MHz band too).

            Since then I don't recall any interesting surplus hitting the marketplace using vacuum tubes. The great NTSC analog to digital conversion and the infinite realignments since then dump some nice VHF-Lo and VHF-Hi linear power amps that hams liked converting to 6M thru 440Mhz bands but those have all been solid state AFAIK.

            There's still stuff around in use in the sense that there's news articles about companies using punch cards for inventory or whatever, but its basically so obsolete its even gone from surplus markets. They'll be stuff in museums. But vacuum tube gear hasn't hit the surplus market in significant mass since boomers were young. I remember my dad bought some vacuum tube VHF-Hi police radio surplus when I was a little kid to convert to ham radio 2M and that worked pretty well, but by the mid 80s that was hopelessly obsolete even for hams (no subaudible tones, poor performance, crystals, etc)

            Magnetrons are mechanical icky and someday those suckers are going to essentially be SMPS that happen to run at ISM microwave band freqs at 99% efficiency. The future is solid state microwave ovens that don't have cooling fans, anymore than my old fashioned heating element oven has a cooling fan. Probably another decade or two at most. Isn't the concept of a cooling fan in a heating appliance weird to begin with?

            • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 22, @11:41AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 22, @11:41AM (#765153)

              > Isn't the concept of a cooling fan in a heating appliance weird to begin with?

              Sounds like you haven't used a new oven/stove/range with electronic controls? Smart man--the electronics doesn't add much except extra points of failure (and whizzy digital displays).

              The ones I've used have fans to cool the electronics--the fan comes on after the oven or heating element has been on long enough to get the control circuitry hot. And the fan stays on for awhile after the oven (etc) is turned off.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Sunday November 18, @10:13PM

      by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Sunday November 18, @10:13PM (#763632) Journal
    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Monday November 26, @03:13PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 26, @03:13PM (#766453)

      Observing how things are developed today, I cannot see how the vacuum tube could come first.

      You would need a variety of software tools to aid your experimentations in the development of such a device.

      --
      ALL LIABILITY IS EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMED FOR PERSONAL INJURY OR DEATH THAT RESULTS FROM READING THE SOURCE CODE.
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Hartree on Saturday November 17, @10:44PM (5 children)

    by Hartree (195) on Saturday November 17, @10:44PM (#763234)

    I'll go more fundamental. Conductors. (AKA wires. And, by contrast, insulators.)

    For millennia, electric phenomena such as sparks, charged amber attracting bits of paper or whatnot had known. But, until electrical conduction was figured out charges weren't known to flow the way we take for granted. Nearly all electrical devices depend on this and are derivative of it. Diodes, resistors, etc are all items that conduct, but in nonstandard ways like having more resistance to flow or only conducting well in one direction.

    Stephen Gray found this, but isn't well known today, like Franklin and others who came later.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Gray_(scientist) [wikipedia.org]

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Sunday November 18, @12:45AM (3 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday November 18, @12:45AM (#763270)

      RNA, without RNA no DNA, without DNA no life, without life no intelligent life, without intelligent life no electrical engineering.

      • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Wednesday November 28, @09:23PM (2 children)

        by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday November 28, @09:23PM (#767504) Journal

        The big bang. Without the big bang, no universe, and thus no matter which could form things like RNA, DNA, intelligent life and electrical engineers.

        --
        The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
        • (Score: 1) by DECbot on Tuesday December 11, @06:25PM (1 child)

          by DECbot (832) on Tuesday December 11, @06:25PM (#772977) Journal

          Are you specifically excluding electrical engineers from intelligent life or did that just happen by subconsciously?

          --
          cats~$ sudo chown -R us /home/base
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, @07:50PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, @07:50PM (#764371)

      eh? good point. also add "shape of conductor". for a coiled conductor you get induction.
      for a conductor in a head-on collision (flattend) you get (sort of) a capacitor ...
      so shapes matter?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 18, @05:01AM (5 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 18, @05:01AM (#763366)

    How much worse off would we be without light bulbs?

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Monday November 19, @03:29PM (3 children)

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 19, @03:29PM (#763888)

      If you had neither one, which of the following would you wish were developed first:
      * electric lights
      * indoor plumbing

      Hey, I could use oil lanterns, candles and torches while I use comfortable convenient indoor plumbing. But preferences may differ. Water on tap. Showers.

      Also don't forget Scott's Tissue which developed the first spliter-free toilet paper.

      --
      ALL LIABILITY IS EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMED FOR PERSONAL INJURY OR DEATH THAT RESULTS FROM READING THE SOURCE CODE.
      • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, @12:24PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, @12:24PM (#764208)

        I don't see indoor plumbing on the poll options
        I must be a grade 13 student from New Zealand

        • (Score: 2) by Osamabobama on Wednesday November 28, @09:33PM

          by Osamabobama (5842) on Wednesday November 28, @09:33PM (#767513)

          I don't see indoor plumbing on the poll options

          It turns out that nobody wants their toilet as an electrical component (except the Japanese, perhaps).

          --
          Appended to the end of comments you post. Max: 120 chars.
      • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Wednesday November 28, @08:08PM

        by tangomargarine (667) on Wednesday November 28, @08:08PM (#767452)

        Indoor plumbing isn't electrical.

        What do you consider to be the biggest technological advancement for electrical components?

        --
        "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
    • (Score: 2) by stretch611 on Monday November 19, @10:39PM

      by stretch611 (6199) on Monday November 19, @10:39PM (#764044)

      You are right...

      If it wasn't for light bulbs, I would not have learned any good ideas from cartoons as a child.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by The Mighty Buzzard on Sunday November 18, @11:26AM (1 child)

    The single pole, single throw switch is obviously the most important component. It's the primary way we've told all the other components it's time to do their thing pretty much since the beginning of practical electricity use.

    --
    "Buzzy, you're probably the dumbest person I've ever encountered. Well, there is aristarchus, so make it 2nd dumbest."
    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Monday November 19, @03:36PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 19, @03:36PM (#763889)

      As a teen in the 1970s, I had the epiphany that once you get at least DPDT relay switches, you can construct logic out of it. A ten key pad combination lock for starters.

      It is best if you have two kinds of relays.
      1. a single coil must be continuously energized to keep the relay switched to its non-active position. Otherwise a spring pulls it back to the inactive position.
      2. two coils. A momentary pulse or continuous energy in either coil moves the switch to that coil's switch position. An interlock should make it impossible to energize both coils.

      Naturally an aspiring geek then soon discovers 7400 series TTL and breadboards. Then a couple years later CMOS.

      --
      ALL LIABILITY IS EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMED FOR PERSONAL INJURY OR DEATH THAT RESULTS FROM READING THE SOURCE CODE.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Snospar on Sunday November 18, @11:51AM (2 children)

    by Snospar (5366) Subscriber Badge on Sunday November 18, @11:51AM (#763443)

    Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, @12:23AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, @12:23AM (#765369)

      ^ "If it's not fiber, it's not internet!"

      Get burned to death by lasers, you fucking bigot.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 24, @02:47AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 24, @02:47AM (#765783)

      Worth nothing unless you can strap it to the head of a shark.

  • (Score: 2) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Wednesday November 21, @01:57PM

    by GreatAuntAnesthesia (3275) on Wednesday November 21, @01:57PM (#764706) Journal

    Sliced Bread.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 22, @12:47PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 22, @12:47PM (#765160)

    These simple electromechanical devices allowed people to build things like elevators back when transistor was just a scientific curiosity, and vacuum tubes were expensive and unreliable. My grandmother's apartment block has an elevator system driven entirely by relay-connected circuits.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Ellis D. Tripp on Friday November 23, @03:16PM (1 child)

    by Ellis D. Tripp (3416) on Friday November 23, @03:16PM (#765550)
    ...bringing us long distance telephony, radio, TV, etc. The transistor and subsequent improvements like ICs simply made amplifiers smaller, faster and more power efficient. Very important, but not as groundbreaking as the invention of the triode vacuum tube.
    --
    "Society is like stew. If you don't keep it stirred up, you end up with a lot of scum on the top!"--Edward Abbey
    • (Score: 2) by fyngyrz on Monday November 26, @09:10PM

      by fyngyrz (6567) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 26, @09:10PM (#766610) Homepage Journal

      Vacuum tubes made amplification POSSIBLE

      I believe you may be referring to the lever, sirrah. A somewhat earlier version of amplification, exchanging one thing for another: distance for applied force (just as a transformer exchanges current for voltage, or vice-versa.)

      :)

      Transistors and Tubes both exchange one force for another: the amplified signal is, somewhat wastefully, cobbled up from the power supplied to the device, while the control is applied elsewhere. Levers, transformers, they work more directly, but kind of do the same thing.

      Levers definitely came first, at least with regard to human tech. I think they probably came before gears, too.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 24, @04:24PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 24, @04:24PM (#765908)

    Not only crystal oscillators, but all piezoelectricity-related components. Before inventing these materials, to generate high frequencies we could use oscillators (stability!) or mechanical devices (reliability!). And a whole Europe would be speaking German now if the Allies had not invent "ASDivite".

  • (Score: 2) by The Shire on Saturday November 24, @06:23PM (7 children)

    by The Shire (5824) on Saturday November 24, @06:23PM (#765940)

    I don't think folks realize just how much tech would never exist without the crystal oscillator. Radios, computers, even the oscilloscopes and counters we rely on to develop modern technology all rely on crystal oscillators. If this property of crystals did not exist then we'd still be in the 19th century.

    • (Score: 3, Touché) by fyngyrz on Monday November 26, @09:15PM (6 children)

      by fyngyrz (6567) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 26, @09:15PM (#766613) Homepage Journal

      If this property of crystals did not exist then we'd still be in the 19th century.

      The L/C circuit wants a (moderately stable) word with you.

      • (Score: 2) by The Shire on Tuesday December 04, @11:43AM (5 children)

        by The Shire (5824) on Tuesday December 04, @11:43AM (#769498)

        The LC is the poor mans crystal oscillator. It uses more power, is less precise, and drifts with both time and temperature.

        Millions of kids were inspired to get into electronics when, to their amazement, they could build a crystal set radio that required no power other than the unseen electromagnetic waves from the radio transmission tower. If you tried to make something like that with an LC circuit, well, you can't.

        Maybe I'm just showing my age, but I'm one of those kids who was inspired by the crystal set radio.

        • (Score: 3, Informative) by fyngyrz on Tuesday December 04, @06:32PM (4 children)

          by fyngyrz (6567) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 04, @06:32PM (#769690) Homepage Journal

          If you tried to make something [that requires no power other than the unseen electromagnetic waves from the radio transmission tower] with an LC circuit, well, you can't.

          Sure you can. An inductive antenna picks up energy just fine. Get enough, tune the circuit for the AM BCB frequency you want, and you'll be able to rectify, filter, and use the result. All you need is a diode, a resistor, and a cap in addition to the LC circuits. Bingo, you have a radio receiver.

          [an LC circuit] uses more power, is less precise, and drifts with both time and temperature.

          Cystals offer a reasonably high inherent level of stability, this is true. Although adding temperature regulation helps. As it does with LC circuits, in fact. However, stability isn't always required to generate clocks, and clocks are the heart of a great deal of digital circuitry. Other digital circuits just run in realtime, no clock required (see your typical AND, OR, XOR, NOT, etc.)

          Crystals also drift with time and temperature. They just drift a lot less. But again, both can be significantly stabilized by stabilizing their environment. You can transmit and receive with nothing to determine frequency but LC-based circuitry. Ham radio operators still do that on a regular basis, BTW.

          PS: I design radio systems, using software and both digital and analog circuitry. This is my ballpark.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, @10:49AM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, @10:49AM (#770019)

            OTN IDNNT YCU the <abbr> tag OTS. ITNF?

            • (Score: 2) by fyngyrz on Wednesday December 05, @02:30PM

              by fyngyrz (6567) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 05, @02:30PM (#770077) Homepage Journal

              is that new functionality?

              I don't know if it's new. It might be. The tag came to my notice when I suggested a means to process TFSs such that common "mystery" terms were automatically, and non-invasively, expanded.

              Having been informed, I wrote this webapp [github.com] to take advantage of it, and to try to encourage the powers-that-be here to use this mechanism in TFSs.

              That's what I'm using to get <abbr> into my posts.

          • (Score: 2) by The Shire on Wednesday December 05, @12:32PM (1 child)

            by The Shire (5824) on Wednesday December 05, @12:32PM (#770042)

            I would expect an antenna capable of providing the requisite power for an LC circuit would be a tad more elaborate than what's needed for a crystal wouldn't it? That being said, I didn't realize they had such low power requirements such that they could be driven over the air like that. That's pretty neat.

            Anyway, maybe it's just personal bias, but I still maintain that the good old crystal set launched the career of many an electrical engineer. I know it amazed me when I was a little kid. The thing was practically magical.

            • (Score: 2) by fyngyrz on Wednesday December 05, @02:23PM

              by fyngyrz (6567) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 05, @02:23PM (#770073) Homepage Journal

              I would expect an antenna capable of providing the requisite power for an LC circuit would be a tad more elaborate than what's needed for a crystal wouldn't it?

              No. A crystal radio works the same way. The first LC circuit is the antenna and (usually) a capacitor; that collects the energy over a specific frequency range, and all the crystal does is rectify it; it performs the function of a diode.

              A capacitor (in early sets, this could be inherent in the wires or the earphones themselves) then changes it from uni-polarity RF pulses to a more-or-less smoothed audio signal.

              In a modern radio, the semiconductor diode does the rectification, so the crystal is no longer needed. There are diodes (ex. germanium, schottky) with much lower forward voltages (and much higher reverse voltages) than your typical iron pyrite or galena crystal + whisker; this means that a diode-and-LC based replacement for a crystal radio can capture smaller signals, and survive larger ones, such as static discharges.

              Anyway, maybe it's just personal bias, but I still maintain that the good old crystal set launched the career of many an electrical engineer. I know it amazed me when I was a little kid. The thing was practically magical.

              I think you're absolutely right on that one.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 02, @02:11PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 02, @02:11PM (#768886)

    Digital to analog converters. And vice versa.

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