Integrated circuits, or IC's, have changed the entire electronics industry. Before IC's were developed, all electronic circuits consisted of individual (discrete), components that were wired together, often requiring a large amount of physical space. Printed circuit Board (PCB) technology made it possible to reduce the amount of space required. Electronic circuits can be quite complex, requiring a large number of components, since discrete components have a fixed size, there is a practical limitation on the amount of size reduction that can be achieved.
The development of integrated circuit technology has made it possible to fabricate large numbers of electronic components onto a single silicon chip. As a result, the physical size of a circuit can be significantly reduced, making it possible to design circuits and devices that would otherwise be impractical.
IC's are complete circuits containing many transistors, diodes, resistors and capacitors as may be necessary for the circuit operation. They are encapsulated in packages that are often no larger than a single discrete transistor. The technology and materials used in the manufacture of IC's are basically the same as those used in the manufacture of transistors and other solid-state devices. In addition, IC's are manufactured for a wide variety of applications and, as a result, are used throughout the electronics industry.