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Topic Title: The greatest innovations in electronics since 1990
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Created On: 13 April 2011 08:29 AM
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 13 April 2011 08:29 AM
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What do you consider to be the greatest innovations in electronics since 1990 for the hobbyist, small and medium enterprise, and education markets?
 13 April 2011 12:19 PM
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When I began working in the electronics industry in the 1970s, there was no cheap CAD software, and decent quality PCBs in small quantities were pretty much beyond the financial reach of the hobbyist (multilayer boards were out of the question even in many professional situations). Also, many component distributors were unwilling to supply private individuals, or indeed anyone without a trade account. It was probably 1990ish when all this began to change for the better.

The range of components available (and of affordable development/programming systems) has obviously increased tremendously. The downside is that the trend to surface mount and smaller pin spacings has made it more difficult for hobbyists to operate at component level.

The ability we now have to access data sheets etc. via the internet is another big step forward from the 1980s. Obviously, personal computing has provided the foundation for much of the above.

Steve Ridgway MIET

Edited: 13 April 2011 at 12:46 PM by saridgway
 13 April 2011 01:02 PM
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I'd say FPGAs are right up there, although they first appeared in the Mid 80s it was during the 90s when their use really took off and they became widely available.

Jake Greenland, CEng MIET.
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 15 April 2011 01:08 PM
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Not meaning to sound daft - Lego!

the lego technics range allows people form no knowledge at all upto postgrad level to quickly and easily learn allembly / programming / mechatronic application. Very useful from an education point of view certainally.


Ash Harness CEng MSc BEng MIET
 22 April 2011 09:29 AM
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Lego Mindstorms are actually on my son's list of (what he considers to be) the greatest innovations. The use of electronics in Lego dates back to the mid 1980s when experimenters started installing sensors and LEDs in Lego bricks and controlling Technic motors using electronic modules and computers.

Has anybody got any favourite ICs that didn't exist in 1990 but find it hard to live without them today? My son got his hands on an RS catalogue from 1990 (that comes in one volume rather than four) and was amazed at the limited range of ICs available compared with the offerings of today.

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