TECHNOLOGY MILESTONES FROM THE CHEMIST’S VIEW
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TECHNOLOGY MILESTONES FROM THE CHEMIST’S VIEW II. INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION S. Innovations in chemistry, engineering, and electronics from the end of the nineteenth century to today allow us to keep in contact from anywhere in the world.

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TECHNOLOGY MILESTONES FROM THE CHEMIST’S VIEW II. INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION S

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TECHNOLOGY MILESTONES FROM THE CHEMIST’S VIEW

II. INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS

Innovations in chemistry, engineering, and electronics from the end of the nineteenth century to today allow us to keep in contact from anywhere in the world.

Our lifestyle of the humanity has changed radically over the last century, from rural to urban life, from education for the elite to education for the masses, from agriculture to research work. The subsequent flow of people, information, new ideas, and materials has brought significant social change.

Numerous results from chemistry have contributed to the development of many communication tools that we need in order to capture, store, and distribute information. Wireless communications and fiber optics provide the foundation of our internet society. Silicon chemistry and high-performance polymers make today’s computer microprocessors possible. Movies, television, and photography all rely on chemistry to help preserve our memories.

Scientific achievements of chemists allow remote family members to keep in touch with each other from anywhere on the globe.

Chronology

II. 1. Communications Advances

The development of telephone

Wireless communications

Facsimile technology and xerography

Laser and fiber optics

II.2. Computer Technology

Evolution of computers

Semiconductor technology

Silicon chips and integrated circuits

Monitor and display technologies

Information storage

Communications satellites

II. 3. Entertainment Developments

Movies

Television

Photography

II. 4. Innovations in Electronics

Evolution of consumer electronics

Advanced synthetic materials

Transistors


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Technology Milestones in Information and Communications

Chronology

1876 Alexander Graham Bell completes the first telephone call.

1926 The Warner brothers make the first movie to synchronize music and audio effects.

1926 The first two-way voice conversation is transmitted across the Atlantic Ocean.

1927 Philo T. Farnsworth broadcasts first television image using a cathode ray tube.

1946 ENIAC, the first electronic digital computer, is put into operation. Since 1944 the Hungarian-born John von Neumann took part in the modification of the mathematical-logical details of ENIAC.

1947 The transistor is invented at Bell Telephone Laboratories.

1955 Reynold Johnson develops the first disk drive.

1958 Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments invents the integrated circuit (IC).

1961 Silicon chips first appear.

1961 Telstar, the world’s first active communications satellite, is sent into orbit.

1961 The firm Eastman Kodak introduces the popular Instamatic camera with film cartridge.

1971Intel company introduces its popular 4004 4-bit microprocessor for consumer use.

1977 Town Chicago tests the first commercial fiber-optic communications system.

1983 Cellular phones become popular after the automatic switching of wireless communications through a series of cells was discovered.

1984 CD-ROM (compact-disc-read-only memory) is introduced along with its companion compact disc (CD) player.


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II. 1. Communications Advances

The development of telephone

A. Graham Bell

Since Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876, it has become a cornerstone of modern life by offering nearly instant connections around the world. The first two-way voice conversation was transmitted across the Atlantic Ocean in 1926, and commercial telephone service (using radio) began between New York and London in 1927. AT&T launched international telephone service in 1935. Transoceanic phone service was began to be handled by submarine cables in 1956 and since 1962 communications satellites. Today’s chemical engineers have brought us from copper wire to fiber optics, from switchboards to satellites, and from party lines to the Internet.


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II. 1. Communications Advances

Wireless communications

Cellular phones and pagers depend on printed and integrated circuits, advanced materials, and miniaturization techniques enhanced by chemistry. AT&T Labs developed mobile car telephones in the 1940s, but they were unpopular due to a lack of communications channels. The 1980s brought a big breakthrough when wireless communications were divided into a series of cells that automatically switched callers as they moved so that each cell could be reused. Cellular phones quickly became popular. Chemistry has also played a role in the development of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries in cellular phones.

Switchboard


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II. 1. Communications Advances

Facsimile technology and xerography

Although Arthur Korn, the German inventor transmitted first pictures electronically in 1902, the first functioning fax machine debuted in 1924. It adapted telephone circuits for picture transmission using telephotography: A photography transparency was scanned into electrical signals that indicated the shades of the image. This data was transmitted by telephone onto a receiving sheet of photographic negative film and then developed in a darkroom. In 1949, a xerographic copier was introduced that allowed an exact replica of an image to be made. Chemical innovations in facsimile technology include new toners and inks, advanced paper technology, and organic photoreceptor technology were introduced in the 1970s.

Telephotography


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II. 1. Communications Advances

Laser and fiber optics

The pure glass fibers that now provide the infrastructure to carry information via laser-produced light in a revolutionary technical achievement. Chemical researchers invented the first optical fiber in 1970. Fiber optics were soonfabricated and installed as integrated components. The first lightwave system to provide voice, data, and video service over a network was installed in 1977 . Today, a single fiber-optic cable can transmit millions of phone calls, data files, and video images.

Installation fiber optics in Chicago downtown (1977)


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II.2. Computer Technology

Evolution of computers

Chemical engineering has fueled the computing revolution and continues to make computers faster, more powerful, and affordable. In 1939, the first electronic computer is invented at Iowa State University. Programmable calculators with binary numbers and Boolean logic began to appear in the 1940s. In 1946, ENIAC, the first electronic digital computer, goes into operation, and the first minicomputer debuts in 1962. By 1971, the Intel Company introduced its popular 4004 4-bit microprocessor for consumer use and the personal computer market exploded. Today’s innovations continue with transistors, silicon chips, integrated components, data storage devices, and advanced materials.

John von Neumann and the ENIAC


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II.2. Computer Technology

Semiconductor technology

Chemistry makes it possible to transform silicon and germanium into semiconductors to power today’s computers, appliances, and communication devices. Semiconductors, as opposed to metals, are a class of materials that increase their conductivity at elevated temperatures. These semiconductors are further treated to create an excess or lack of electrons. Computer chips and integrated circuits are made from semiconducting materials. Semiconductors electronic components to be smaller, faster, and more energy-efficient. Chemists in the semiconductor industry provide quality control of components, optimization processes, troubleshooting, and innovations to microelectronic devices.

A p-type semiconductor (lack of electrons)

An n-type semiconductor (excess of electrons)


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II.2. Computer Technology

Silicon chips and integrated circuits

In 1947, researchers John Bardeen, William Shockley, and Walter Brattain demonstrated that the flow of electricity through silicon could be selectively controlled. The subsequent creation of silicon chips, integrated circuits, and microprocessors make possible today’s high-speed, efficient computers. Silicon chips (1961) consist of transistors, resistors, capacitors, and memory chips built in layers on silicon wafers, then exposed to a multi-step chemical process. In 1967, the first hand-held calculator is built using an integrated circuit, a small electronic device containing many transistors and other electronic components. In the 1980s, integrated circuits are applied to computers.

Silicon chip

The first integrated circuit


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II.2. Computer Technology

Monitor and display technologies

Dramatic improvements have been made in computer display technology in recent years. High-resolution color graphics screens are mainly based on the television’s cathode ray tube. Alternate display technologies include flat-screen displays for laptop and notebook computers. Liquid crystals displays (LCD) based on organic chemicals were invented in 1969. Subsequent developments include thin-film transistors liquid crystal display in which each picture elements is driven by its own individual transistors. Chemists have developed liquid crystal materials, color filters, polymer alignment layers, molded-plastic light distribution sheets, and plasma display technology.

Camera Obscura


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II.2. Computer Technology

Information storage

Information must be recorded so that it can be retrieved at a later time if it is to be used and manipulated fully. Chemical innovations have ensured that the media for such recordings has remained high-quality, easy-to-use, and inexpensive. Breakthroughs in recording capabilities (higher resolution, faster speed, and color), photographic films, magnetic audio recordings, and digital imaging have also brought advances in recording devices. In 1955, Reynold Johnson, an American inventor and computer pioneer developed the first disk drive to store computerized data. Many subsequent advances have been made, especially with computer disks, magnetic tapes, and CD-ROMs (1984).

Early disk drive


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II.2. Computer Technology

Communications satellites

Until the 1960s, voice communications between North America and other continents were very expensive. In 1962, Telstar, the world’s first active communications satellite, was sent into orbit. Chemistry provided the structural materials (metal alloys, plastic, and other advanced materials), computer and electronic components, and the fuel technology necessary to launch these satellites. Communications satellites played a major role in expanding both international and domestic long distance calling and television transmission until the 1990s. Today, communications satellites play an increasing role in television transmission, including direct broadcasts to home satellite dishes with digital television.

Telstar

Manufacturing of GPS satellites

GPS satellites on orbit


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II. 3. Entertainment Developments

Movies

In 1927, The Jazz Singer became the first feature-length movie to synchronize singing and dialogue. By the late 1930s, processes of the firm Technicolor had been refined and the first color features were a big draw. The chemistry of film required a series of breakthroughs involving basic materials, different chemical solutions, and exposure to light.

The showbill of the first feature-length movie, The Jazz Singer, with synchronized singing and dialogue


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II. 3. Entertainment Developments

Television

In 1926, the Scotman John Logie Baird displayed television publicly for the first time in London, using a mechanical television system, the Nipkow disc, patented in 1883. By 1927, Philo T. Farnsworth had transmitted the first television image using cathode ray tube (invented in 1897). The next twenty years was the era of the vacuum tube in electronics, and chemistry contributed the unique materials for electrodes and control elements within the tube. By the 1950s, many innovations were made, including the integrated circuit (1958). The following decades brought solid-state imaging devices, miniaturization, and varied electronic improvements.

The Nipkow disc and its inventor Paul Nipkow

Philo T. Farnsworth and the cathode raytube


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II. 3. Entertainment Developments

Photography

Photography and films technology enable us to record the most important experiences and people in our lives. Chemistry developed the film for all types of cameras with breakthroughs involving basic materials, different chemical solutions, and exposure to light. Battery improvements have also contributed to the popularity of the camera, including the 1950s alkaline manganese batteries for small cameras with built-in flash unit. Being able to manipulate film, electronics, and batteries led to the 1963 introduction of Eastman Kodak’s popular Instamatic camera with film cartridge, which sold over 50 millions by 1970.

Kodak-Instamatic


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II. 4. Innovations in Electronics

Evolution of consumer electronics

Electronic materials and microelectronic devices are the heart of countless modern products, such as CD players, televisions, computers, digital cameras and wireless devices. From vacuum tubes to transistors to integrated circuits, chemical engineers have made electronics smaller, more powerful, energy-efficient, and cheaper. New materials, processes for producing highly purified materials, and processes for building semiconductors have resulted in components, such as transistors and integrated circuits, which can be assembled into complex electronic circuitry to provide new capabilities to a wide range of electronic devices.


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II. 4. Innovations in Electronics

Advanced synthetic materials

Consumer electronics, cellular phones, and personal computers rely on though, durable, non-conducting plastics to protect sensitive electronic components. Plastics are essential in electronic applications because of their insulating properties; the flow of electrons that make up electrical currents cannot readily penetrate plastics’ molecular structures. By manipulating the structures of molecules and creating new ones, chemists and engineers produce new materials that are both strong and flexible. These advances have improved impact resistance, reduced the total weight of equipment, and reduced the cost of consumer goods.


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II. 4. Innovations in Electronics

Transistors

It was the tiny, reliable electronic component called a transistor that enabled the marriage of computers and communication more than any other single development. In 1947, John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley invented the transistor, and it gradually replaced the bulky, fragile vacuum tubes that had been used to amplify and switch signals. The transistor and the subsequent integrated circuits (that contains millions of transistors) served as the foundation for the development of modern electronics. By 1954, the wildly popular transistor radio was introduced, and by 1958, an American electrical engineer, Seymour Cray developed a transistorized computer.

The first transistor

The inventors of transistor


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