Brief History of Electronics and Their Development

In this 21st century, every day we are dealing with electronic circuits and devices in some of the other forms because gadgets, home appliances, computers, transport systems, cell phones, cameras, TV, etc. all have electronic components and devices. Today’s world of electronics has made deep inroads in several areas, such as healthcare, medical diagnosis, automobiles, industries, electronics projects, etc., and convinced everyone that without electronics, it is really impossible to work. Therefore, looking forward to knowing the past and about the brief history of electronics is necessary to revive our minds and to get inspired by those individuals who sacrificed their lives by engaging themselves in such amazing discoveries and inventions that costs everything for them, but nothing for us, and, in turn, benefitted us immensely since then.

Brief History of Electronics and Its Development

Electronics’ actual history began with the invention of vacuum diode by J.A. Fleming, in 1897; and, after that, a vacuum triode was implemented by Lee De Forest to amplify electrical signals. This led to the introduction of tetrode and pentode tubes that dominated the world until World War II.

Brief History of Electronics
Brief History of Electronics

Subsequently, the transistor era began with the junction transistor invention in 1948. Even though this particular invention got a Nobel Prize, yet it was later replaced with a bulky vacuum tube that would consume high power for its operation. The use of germanium and silicon semiconductor materials made these transistors gain popularity and wide-acceptance usage in different electronic circuits.

Integrated Circuits (ICs)
Integrated Circuits (ICs)

The subsequent years witnessed the invention of the integrated circuits (ICs) that drastically changed the electronic circuits’ nature as the entire electronic circuit got integrated on a single chip, which resulted in low: cost, size, and weight electronic devices. The years 1958 to 1975 marked the introduction of IC with enlarged capabilities of over several thousand components on a single chip such as small-scale integration, medium-large scale, and very-large-scale integration ICs.

And the trend further carried forward with the JFETS and MOSFETs that were developed from 1951 to 1958 by improving the device designing process and by making more reliable and powerful transistors.

Digital integrated circuits were yet another robust IC development that changed the overall architecture of computers. These ICs were developed with Transistor-transistor logic (TTL), integrated injection logic (I2L), and emitter-coupled logic (ECL) technologies. Later these digital ICs employed PMOS, NMOS, and CMOS fabrication design technologies.


All these radical changes in all these components led to the introduction of microprocessors in 1969 by Intel. Soon after, the analog integrated circuits were developed that introduced an operational amplifier for analog signal processing. These analog circuits include analog multipliers, ADC and DAC converters, and analog filters.

This is all about the fundamental understanding of electronics history. This history of electronics technology costs a greater investment of time, efforts, and talent from the real heroes, some of them are described below.

Inventors in History of Electronics
Inventors in History of Electronics

Luigi Galvani (1737-1798)

Luigi Galvani was a professor at the University of Bologna. He studied the effects of electricity on animals, especially on frogs. With the help of experiments, he showed the presence of electricity in frogs in the year 1791.

Charles Coulomb (1737-1806)

Charles coulomb was a great scientist of the 18th century. He experimented with mechanical resistance and developed the coulomb’s law of electro-static charges in the year 1799.

Allesandro Volta (1745-1827)

Allesandro Volta was an Italian scientist. He invented the battery in the year 1799. He was the first to develop a battery (Voltaic cell) that could produce electricity as a result of a chemical reaction.

Hans Christian Oersted (1777-1852)

Hans Christian Oersted showed that whenever a current flows through a conductor, a magnetic field is associated with it. He initiated the study of electromagnetism and discovered Aluminum in the year 1820.

George Simon Ohm (1789-1854)

George Simon Ohm was a German physicist. He experimented with the electrical circuits and made his own part including the wire. He found that some conductors worked when compared to others. He discovered Ohms law in the year 1827, which is a relationship between current, voltage& resistance. The unit for resistance is named after him.

Michael Faraday (1791-1867)

Michael Faraday was a British scientist and great pioneer experimenter in electricity and magnetism. After the discovery by Oersted, he demonstrated electromagnetic induction in the year 1831. This is the basic principle of the working of generators.

Samuel Finley Breese Morse (1791-1872)

Samuel Finley Breese Morse brought a telegraphy system to the forefront with electromagnets & invented the code in 1844 and named after him.

In the year1837, the expansion of an electric telegraph system uses a deflecting magnetic needle, developed by Sir Charles Wheatstone & Sir W. F. Cooke, who fixed the primary railway telegraph in England. To make the telegraph a viable system for communication, Morse overcame the design flaws of both electrical as well as information flow limits to allow the telegraph to turn into a feasible system for communication.

Joseph Henry (1799-1878)

Joseph Henry was an American scientist, and independently discovered electromagnetic induction in the year 1831 – a year before faraday’s discovery. The unit of induction was named after him.

Heinrich F.E. Lenz (1804-1865)

Heinrich F.E. Lenz was born in Tartu, the old University City, Estonia. He worked as a professor at St. Petersburg University. He followed several experiments on the lead of Faraday.

He is honored by the law with his name and it states that the induced current’s electrodynamics action equally resists the mechanical inducing action. Afterward, it was identified as an expression for energy conservation.

Hermann Lud-wig Ferdinand von Helmholtz (1821-1894)

Hermann Lud-wig Ferdinand von Helmholtz was a universal scientist as well as a researcher. In the 19th century, he is one of the famous scientists. In the year 1870, once examining all the common electrodynamics theories, he lends his support for Maxwell’s theory which was slightly recognized on the European continent.

Joseph Wilson Swan (1828-1914)

In the year 1879, Joseph Wilson Swan was invented as an electric lamp in Britain. The filament of the lamp is carbon & had a fractional vacuum & demonstration of preceded Edison’s in six months.

James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)

James Clerk Maxwell was a British physicist, and he wrote a treatise on magnetism and electricity in the year 1873. He developed the electromagnetic field equations in the year 1864. The equations in it were explained and predicted by hertz’s work and faradays’ work. James Clerk Maxwell formulated an important theory – that is, electromagnetic theory of light.

Sir William Crookes (1832-1919)

Sir William Crookes was developed electrical discharges using “Crookes tubes” which are highly evacuated in 1878. These studies laid the establishment for J. J. Thomson’s investigation in 1890 about the discharge-tube phenomenon as well as the electron. Sir William also invented the Thallium element to complete the radiometer.

Oliver Heaviside (1850-1925)

Oliver Heaviside worked with the equations of Maxwell to decrease the exhaustion incurred in resolving them. In the procedure, he created a vector analysis form known as “Operational Calculus” that changed the differential (d/dt) through the algebraic variable (p) to change differential equations for algebraic equations. So this will increase the solution speed greatly.

Oliver also invented the ionized air layer and named it after him, that inductance can be included in transmission lines for increasing the distance of transmission & that charges will enlarge in mass once accelerated.

Heinrich Rudolph Hertz (1857-1894)

Heinrich Rudolph Hertz was the first scientist to demonstrate the radio waves’ existence. His motivation came from Helmholtz & Maxwell.

In the year 1887, he demonstrated the velocity of radio waves and also known as Hertzian waves which were equivalent to that of light. The frequency unit like Hertz is named after him.

Henrich Rudolph Hertz (1857-1894)

Henrich Rudolph Hertz was a German physicist born in 1857 in Hamburg. He demonstrated the electromagnetic radiation predicted by Maxwell. By using experimental procedures, he proved the theory by engineering instruments to transmit and receive radio pulses. He was the first person to demonstrate the photoelectric effect. The unit of frequency was named Hertz in his honorarium.

Charles Proteus Steinmetz (1865-1923)

Charles Proteus Steinmetz has discovered the mathematics for hysteresis loss, therefore allowing engineers to decrease magnetic loss within transformers. Charles also applied the mathematics for compound numbers to AC analysis & therefore situated electrical systems engineering design on a scientific base in its place of a black art.

Along with Nikola Tesla, he is accountable for the power generation which is away from Edison’s inefficient DC system toward the more stylish AC system.

Ben Franklin (1746-52)

Ben Franklin invented different electrostatic generators by rotary glass balls for the experiment. By using this experiment, he invented the electricity theory for the single fluid.

In earlier theories, two electrical fluids as well as two magnetic fluids were used. So he imagined simply one imponderable electrical in the universe. The disparity in electrical charges was clarified through an excess (+) otherwise defect (–) of the only electrical liquid. The positive & negative symbols appear in Electric Circuit.

Andre Marie Ampere (1775-1836)

Andre Marie Ampere was a French mathematician and physicist. He studied the effects of electric current and invented solenoid. The SI unit of electric current (the Ampere) was named after him.

Karl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855)

Karl Friedrich Gauss was a physical scientist and the greatest German mathematician. He contributed to many fields like algebra, analysis, statistics, electrostatics, and astronomy. The CGS unit of magnetic field density was named after him.

Wilhelm Eduard Weber (1804-1891)

Wilhelm Eduard Weber was a German physicist. He investigated terrestrial magnetism with his friend Carl fried rich. He devised an electromagnetic telegraph in the year 1833, and also established a system of absolute electrical units, and the MKS unit of flux was named after Weber.

Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1932)

Thomas Alva Edison was a businessman and an American inventor. He developed many devices like, practical electric bulbs, motion picture cameras, photograph,s, and other such things. While inventing the electric lamp, he observed the Edison effect.

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943)

Nikola Tesla invented the Tesla coil; the Tesla induction motor; alternating current (AC); electrical supply system that includes a transformer; 3-phase electricity and motor. In 1891, the Tesla coil was invented and used in electronic equipment, television, and radio sets. The unit of magnetic field density was named after him.

Gustav Robert Kirchhoff (1824-1887)

Gustav Robert Kirchhoff was a German physicist. He developed Kirchhoff’s law that allows calculation of the voltages, currents, and resistances of electrical networks.

James Prescott Joule (1818-1889)

James Prescott Joule was a brewer and an English physicist. He discovered the law of conservation of energy. The unit of energy – Joule was named in his honor. To develop the scale of temperature, he worked with Lord Kelvin.

Sir John Ambrose Fleming (1849-1945)

The earliest diode tube was invented by Sir John Ambrose Fleming in 1905. This device includes three leads where two leads are the heater and cathode & the remaining one is the plate.

Lee De Forest (1873-1961)

Lee de forest was an American inventor, and he invented the first triode vacuum tube: the Audion tube in 1906. He was honored as the father of radio.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

In the year 1905, Einstein was involved in Max Planck’s experimental results to notice electromagnetic energy appeared to be produced from radiating objects within quantities that were separate.
The power of these emitted quantities is known as light-quanta and it was directly proportional to the radiation frequency. Here this frequency was different from standard electromagnetic theory depending on Maxwell’s equations as well as thermodynamics laws.

Einstein employed the quantum hypothesis of Planck to explain observable electromagnetic radiation, otherwise light. Based on the viewpoint of Einstein, the beam could be visualized to include discrete packages of radiation.

Einstein used this analysis to clarify the effect of photoelectric, where certain metals produce electrons once they are illuminated through the light in a specified frequency. Einstein’s theory has formed the source for Quantum Mechanics.

Walter Schottky (1886-1997)

Walter Schottky was a German physicist. He defined shot noise-random electron noise in thermionic tubes and invented the multiple grid vacuum tube.

Edwin Howard Armstrong (1890-1954)

Edwin Howard Armstrong was an inventor and an American electrical engineer. He invented electronic oscillator and regenerative feedback. In 1917, he invented the superheterodyne radio and patented the FM radio in the year 1933.

Jack St. Clair Kilby (1923-2005)

Jack St. Clair Kilby was invented the IC (integrated circuit) at Texas instruments while researching miniaturization, a phase-shift oscillator with independently connected parts. He received a copyright in the year 1959.

Robert Norton Noyce (1927-1990)

Robert Norton Noyce was implemented the IC using a practical approach for scaling the circuit size. He became an organizer for a company like Fairchild Semiconductor in the year1957.

In the year 1959, Noyce and his colleague invented a semiconducting chip design; a similar thought came to mind separately to “Jack Kilby” in Texas Instruments in the same year. So, both Noyce as well as Kilby were granted patents.

In the year 1968, Norton & Gordon Moore formed Intel. In the year 1971, Intel designer Ted Hoff has invented the primary microprocessor namely the 4004.

Seymour Cray (1925-1996)

In the year 1976, the father of supercomputers namely Seymour Cray & George Amdahl was defined as the industry of supercomputers.

Ray Prasad (1946-Still Going 2019)

The Author of the Surface Mount Technology Principles & Practice Textbook is Ray Prasad. He received many awards like IPC President, Intel Achievement, SMTA Member of Distinction, & Fellowship Medal of Dieter W. Bergman IPC.

Since the lead engineer, he initiated SMT into airplanes as well as security systems at Boeing. He handled the SMT global implementation like a program manager at Intel Organization.

From 2000 to 2019, the timeline of Electronics History is listed below.

In the year 2006, the former WII as well as PS3 Gaming Console were invented.

In the year 2007, the first Apple iPhone as well as iPod were invented.

In the year 2008, the first Android operating system for Smartphones was invented.

In the year 2008, the Large Hadron Collider was invented.

In the year 2010, the Gaming Console of Xbox 360 was invented.

In the year 2011, the revolutions of the solar panel like a renewable energy source or an alternate energy source.

In the year 2011, the space vehicle was invented l by NASA landed on Mars.

In the year 2014, Microscale 3-D Printing was launched.

In the year 2018, NASA launched the Parker Solar Probe.

In the year 2019, Chandrayan-2 was launched by India to the Moon.

The history of electronics is a huge area & it is not potential to provide the complete information of the systematic history in a restricted range. Anyhow electronics concept was started first like philosophy, after that physics, after that electrical engineering and now this concept got its recognition.

The birth of modern electronics is started from a vacuum diode. The 20th century is changed because of electronics because all the systems used today are electronics based. Through, the future of electronics seems to be extremely good because of the growth in electronics. The upcoming fields like bioinformatics & quantum communication are leading regions of electronics.

Hope you got a somewhat better understanding of this brief history of electronics. Why can’t we learn something from the above philosophers and great inventors for bettering our world and technology? Please share your views on this article in the comment section below

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