It’s half a century since the first integrated circuit was demonstrated by Jack Kilby at Texas Instruments Jack Kilby’s first integrated circuit
If it wasn’t for the invention of the integrated circuit, then computers today would probably be housed in huge mahogany cabinets with a baffling array of polished, brass valves, or at least be stuffed into huge boxes containing hand-soldered transistors. We owe a lot of thanks to the integrated circuit, or microchip, which is today celebrating its 50th birthday.
The first microchip (pictured) was first demonstrated by Jack Kilby from Texas Instruments on 12 September 1958. It might not be much to look at, but then Texas Instruments admits that Kilby often remarked that if he’d known he’d be showing the first working integrated circuit for the next 40-plus years, he would’ve ‘prettied it up a little.’ The chip worked, though, producing a sine wave on an oscilloscope screen at the demo.
The integrated circuit itself is the germanium strip that you can see in the middle of the glass slide, and it measured 7/16in by 1/16in. With protruding wires, and just containing a single transistor, some resistors and a capacitor, it’s a primitive chip by today’s standards. However, it opened the gate for mass production of larger-scale chips that could contain more and more transistors without the need for complicated hand-soldering jobs.
Integrated circuit is 50 years old today – [Link]
Next-generation laptops won’t have hard drives. Instead, they’ll use flash memory—the same found in camera memory cards and iPhones. Flash-based drives are thinner, faster and nearly indestructible.
Like a traditional hard drive, a flash-based drive stores information in the computer-readable language of 0s and 1s. But instead of writing data by flipping magnetic poles on a spinning disk, flash memory just shuttles electrons around on a stamp-size microchip.
How It Works: Solid-State Storage - [Link]
A stretchable electronic circuit is considered as a number of rigid or flexible component islands which are connected by elastic interconnections. Stretchable interconnections are achieved by embedding meander shaped metal wires in an elastic base material. Stretchabilities of 50% and more using our technologies have been obtained and also the possibility to embed components has been demonstrated. [via]
Stretchable electronics - [Link]
Purported to be the fourth major electronic component, HP is introducing the memristor -
The new component is called the “memristor” — a word blend of “memory” and “resistor”. The physical working model and the mathematical model of the component were presented side by side in a paper in the journal Nature, yesterday. Four researchers at the lab, led by R. Stanley Williams, presented the device which retains the history of information passed to it.
The device could make for computers that need no boot-up, never forget, use less power, and associate memories much like the human mind. Such possibilities were long considered the realm of science fiction. The realization of the device was 37 years in the making, and many had come to think it would never be created.
Will we be stocking these along with standard resistors and capacitors? Hrrmm, time will tell. [via]
The memristor - [Link]
Measuring just 8.5-mm thin, you’re looking at what Samsung claims to be the slimmest CMOS camera module of its kind. The 8 megapixel module is expected to supplant the 5 megapixel job found in todays top-end cameraphones sometime in the second half of the year. Fortunately, this isn’t just a case of megapixel marketing as the module also features anti-shake, a 1-cm macro, and face tracking technology. It also packs a smile shutter feature to snap that picture just as soon as a smile, or vinegar, is detected.
The world’s first ultra-thin 8.5mm camera module by Samsung - [Link]
This is 3D ultrasonic computer mouse.The MagicMouse receiver consists of five ultrasonic micrphones precisely positioned.It works like a regular mouse except that you wear it on your finger instead of using your whole hand to manipulate a mouse. Below is the Receiver.
MagicMouse - [Link]
The EXAscan is a handheld 3D laser scanner small enough to fit in a carry-on size suitcase. It uses 3 high resolution cameras in conjunction with a self-positioning target system alleviating any need for external tracking devices during scanning. And on top of all that it looks like special issue starfleet equipment. (and most likely costs about as much.) [via]
Handheld 3D scanner - [Link]
This little camera may not look like much, and in fact, it’s not much, measuring less than 3″ square. But what it can do is huge. It’s a LADAR (or LIDAR) camera, which uses a laser to create 3D images. This tiny little guy has a 128×128 pixel sensor, and it’s able to detect objects up to 22,000 feet away with a depth resolution of up to one inch, depending on what laser is installed as an illuminator. LADAR (Laser Detection and Ranging) uses timed pulses of laser light to determine how far away and how reflective something is, and this particular camera is able to operate at up to 30 frames per second, which results in pretty decent 3D video.
LADAR Imaging Technology - [Link]
Sony has announced the development of a new Blu-ray reader / writer module that is not only smaller than previous components, but promises to be cheaper as well due to a simplified manufacturing process. The new laser housing is less than three millimeters thick, according to the Japanese manufacturer and co-developer Nichia Corporation, enabling it to be incorporated into smaller devices such as portable players. Sony predicts that we’ll first start seeing 9.5-millimeter laptop BD drives which employ the module later this year.
Sony announces new Blu-ray module, should drive down costs - [Link]
Wow, superhuman vision, maybe -
Movie characters from the Terminator to the Bionic Woman use bionic eyes to zoom in on far-off scenes, have useful facts pop into their field of view, or create virtual crosshairs. Off the screen, virtual displays have been proposed for more practical purposes — visual aids to help vision-impaired people, holographic driving control panels and even as a way to surf the Web on the go.
The device to make this happen may be familiar. Engineers at the University of Washington have for the first time used manufacturing techniques at microscopic scales to combine a flexible, biologically safe contact lens with an imprinted electronic circuit and lights. [via]
Contact lenses with circuits - [Link]