AT&T Tech Channel

About this video

From the macro, to the micro: how the new microchips would make the world smaller, by changing the communications game.

This is the life story of a technology: the integrated circuit, or silicon chip. In 1970, there were only around 130,000 machines that incorporated these chips, primarily in the workplace. The chips were about the size of a few grains of salt. At the time, this was cutting-edge computing, and microchips contained approximately 450 transistors. To put this into a more modern perspective, integrated circuits circa 2006 contain more than a million per square millimeter.

In 1971, circuits were designed with the help of early computers, but were mapped and hand-drawn using huge, 20' by 20' photographic masks, then shrunk to a microscale for use in manufacturing. After manufacture, the chips were cut apart with lasers, and used in picturephones (among other applications).

Writer/Director: Henry R. Feinberg
Produced by the Audio/Visual Media Dept. at Bell Laboratories
Artwork by Ken Knowlton

Footage courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ

Release date: 02/18/2011