Digital Revolution

Rings of time showing some important dates in Digital Revolution from 1968 to 2017
A visualization of the various routes through a portion of the Internet (created via The Opte Project).
Analog to digital transition 1986 - 2014
A university computer lab containing many desktop PCs

Shift from mechanical and analogue electronic technology to digital electronics which began in the later half of the 20th century, with the adoption and proliferation of digital computers and digital record-keeping, that continues to the present day.

- Digital Revolution

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Type of insulated-gate field-effect transistor that is fabricated by the controlled oxidation of a semiconductor, typically silicon.

MOSFET, showing gate (G), body (B), source (S) and drain (D) terminals. The gate is separated from the body by an insulating layer (pink).
MOSFET transistors in various types of packaging
A cross-section through an nMOSFET when the gate voltage VGS is below the threshold for making a conductive channel; there is little or no conduction between the drain and source terminals; the switch is off. When the gate is more positive, it attracts electrons, inducing an n-type conductive channel in the substrate below the oxide, which allows electrons to flow between the n-doped terminals; the switch is on.
Simulation of formation of inversion channel (electron density) and attainment of threshold vol­tage (IV) in a nanowire MOSFET. Note: threshold voltage for this device lies around 0.45 V
Photomicrograph of two metal-gate MOSFETs in a test pattern. Probe pads for two gates and three source/drain nodes are labeled.
Metal–oxide–semiconductor structure on p-type silicon
Channel formation in nMOS MOSFET shown as band diagram: Top panels: An applied gate voltage bends bands, depleting holes from surface (left). The charge inducing the bending is balanced by a layer of negative acceptor-ion charge (right). Bottom panel: A larger applied voltage further depletes holes but conduction band lowers enough in energy to populate a conducting channel
C–V profile for a bulk MOSFET with different oxide thickness. The leftmost part of the curve corresponds to accumulation. The valley in the middle corresponds to depletion. The curve on the right corresponds to inversion
Source tied to the body to ensure no body bias: subthreshold (top left), ohmic mode (top right), active mode at onset of pinch-off (bottom left), and active mode well into pinch-off (bottom right). Channel length modulation is evident.
Example application of an n-channel MOSFET. When the switch is pushed, the LED lights up.
Band diagram showing body effect. VSB splits Fermi levels Fn for electrons and Fp for holes, requiring larger VGB to populate the conduction band in an nMOS MOSFET
Two power MOSFETs in D2PAK surface-mount packages. Operating as switches, each of these components can sustain a blocking voltage of 120V in the off state, and can conduct a con­ti­nuous current of 30 A in the on state, dissipating up to about 100 W and controlling a load of over 2000 W. A matchstick is pictured for scale.
Cross section of a power MOSFET, with square cells. A typical transistor is constituted of several thousand cells
A FinFET (fin field-effect transistor), a type of multi-gate MOSFET.
MOSFET showing shallow junction extensions, raised source and drain and halo implant. Raised source and drain separated from gate by oxide spacers
Trend of Intel CPU transistor gate length
MOSFET version of gain-boosted current mirror; M1 and M2 are in active mode, while M3 and M4 are in Ohmic mode, and act like resistors. The operational amplifier provides feedback that maintains a high output resistance.

It is a compact transistor that has been miniaturised and mass-produced for a wide range of applications, revolutionizing the electronics industry and the world economy, and being central to the digital revolution, silicon age and information age.

Second Industrial Revolution

Phase of rapid scientific discovery, standardization, mass production, and industrialization from the late 19th century into the early 20th century.

A German railway in 1895.
A telegraph key used to transmit text messages in Morse code.
The ocean liner, a steamboat. As the main means of trans-oceanic travel for more than a century, ocean liners were essential to the transport needs of national governments, commercial enterprises and the general public.
A diagram of the Bessemer converter. Air blown through holes in the converter bottom creates a violent reaction in the molten pig iron that oxidizes the excess carbon, converting the pig iron to pure iron or steel, depending on the residual carbon.
The Barrow Hematite Steel Company operated 18 Bessemer converters and owned the largest steelworks in the world at the turn of the 20th century.
A rail rolling mill in Donetsk, 1887.
U.S. Patent#223898: Electric-Lamp. Issued 27 January 1880.
Three-phase rotating magnetic field of an AC motor. The three poles are each connected to a separate wire. Each wire carries current 120 degrees apart in phase. Arrows show the resulting magnetic force vectors. Three phase current is used in commerce and industry.
A graphic representation of formulas for the pitches of threads of screw bolts.
The BASF-chemical factories in Ludwigshafen, Germany, 1881
HMS Devastation, built in 1871, as it appeared in 1896
Propellers of the RMS Olympic, 1911
Benz Patent-Motorwagen, first production automobile, first built in 1885
1910 Ford Model T
Major telegraph lines in 1891.
Workers on the first moving assembly line put together magnetos and flywheels for 1913 Ford autos in Michigan.
Relative per capita levels of industrialization, 1750–1910. (Relative to G.B. in 1900 = 100).

The Second Industrial Revolution is followed by the Third Industrial Revolution starting in 1947.


Any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery.

Computer simulation, one of the main cross-computing methodologies.
ENIAC, the first programmable general-purpose electronic digital computer

The MOSFET made it possible to build high-density integrated circuit chips, leading to what is known as the computer revolution or microcomputer revolution.

Personal computer

Multi-purpose microcomputer whose size, capabilities, and price make it feasible for individual use.

An artist's depiction of a 2000s-era desktop-style personal computer, which includes a metal case with the computing components, a display monitor and a keyboard (mouse not shown)
Commodore PET in 1983 (at the American Museum of Science and Energy), an early example of a personal computer
The 8-bit architecture Pravetz 82 computer produced in Bulgaria from 1982, in school class in the Soviet Union
Altair 8800 computer
The three personal computers referred to by Byte Magazine as the "1977 Trinity" of home computing: The Commodore PET, the Apple II, and the TRS-80 Model I.
IBM 5150, released in 1981
The 8-bit PMD 85 personal computer produced in 1985–1990 by the Tesla company in the former socialist Czechoslovakia
Sun SPARCstation 1+ from the early 1990s, with a 25 MHz RISC processor
A Dell OptiPlex desktop computer
A portable computer Cambridge Z88 released in 1987
A laptop computer
An HP netbook
HP Compaq tablet PC with rotating/removable keyboard
The LG G4, a typical smartphone
A screenshot of the LibreOffice Writer software
A screenshot of Krita, which is a raster graphics editor.
Children being taught how to use a laptop computer in 2005. An older (1990s-era) desktop personal computer's CRT monitor is visible in the background.
Personal computers worldwide in million distinguished by developed and developing world

The advent of personal computers and the concurrent Digital Revolution have significantly affected the lives of people in all countries.

Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, 4IR, or Industry 4.0, conceptualizes rapid change to technology, industries, and societal patterns and processes in the 21st century due to increasing interconnectivity and smart automation.

Self-driving car
Internet of Things (IoT)
Hydroponic Vertical farming

It also represents a social, political, and economic shift from the digital age of the late 1990s and early 2000s to an era of embedded connectivity distinguished by the omni-use and commonness of technological use throughout society (e.g. a metaverse) that changes the ways humans experience and know the world around them.


Digital electronic machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically.

A human computer, with microscope and calculator, 1952
The Ishango bone, a bone tool dating back to prehistoric Africa.
The Chinese suanpan (算盘). The number represented on this abacus is 6,302,715,408.
The Antikythera mechanism, dating back to ancient Greece circa 150–100 BC, is an early analog computing device.
A slide rule.
A portion of Babbage's Difference engine.
Sir William Thomson's third tide-predicting machine design, 1879–81
Replica of Konrad Zuse's Z3, the first fully automatic, digital (electromechanical) computer.
Colossus, the first electronic digital programmable computing device, was used to break German ciphers during World War II. It is seen here in use at Bletchley Park in 1943.
ENIAC was the first electronic, Turing-complete device, and performed ballistics trajectory calculations for the United States Army.
A section of the Manchester Baby, the first electronic stored-program computer
Bipolar junction transistor (BJT)
MOSFET (MOS transistor), showing gate (G), body (B), source (S) and drain (D) terminals. The gate is separated from the body by an insulating layer (pink).
Diagram showing how a particular MIPS architecture instruction would be decoded by the control system
Magnetic-core memory (using magnetic cores) was the computer memory of choice in the 1960s, until it was replaced by semiconductor memory (using MOS memory cells).
Hard disk drives are common storage devices used with computers.
Cray designed many supercomputers that used multiprocessing heavily.
Replica of the Manchester Baby, the world's first electronic stored-program computer, at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, England
A 1970s punched card containing one line from a Fortran program. The card reads: "Z(1) = Y + W(1)" and is labeled "PROJ039" for identification purposes.
The actual first computer bug, a moth found trapped on a relay of the Harvard Mark II computer
Visualization of a portion of the routes on the Internet

The speed, power and versatility of computers have been increasing dramatically ever since then, with transistor counts increasing at a rapid pace (as predicted by Moore's law), leading to the Digital Revolution during the late 20th to early 21st centuries.

Mohamed M. Atalla

Egyptian-American engineer, physical chemist, cryptographer, inventor and entrepreneur.

Mohamed Atalla as Director of Semiconductor Research at HP Associates in 1963
The MOSFET was invented by Atalla with his colleague Dawon Kahng in 1959, based on Atalla's earlier surface passivation and thermal oxidation processes.

Atalla's pioneering work at Bell contributed to modern electronics, the silicon revolution, and Digital Revolution.

Claude Shannon

American mathematician, electrical engineer, and cryptographer known as a "father of information theory".

The Minivac 601, a digital computer trainer designed by Shannon.
Shannon and his electromechanical mouse Theseus (named after Theseus from Greek mythology) which he tried to have solve the maze in one of the first experiments in artificial intelligence.
Claude Shannon centenary

According to Neil Sloane, an AT&T Fellow who co-edited Shannon's large collection of papers in 1993, the perspective introduced by Shannon's communication theory (now called information theory) is the foundation of the digital revolution, and every device containing a microprocessor or microcontroller is a conceptual descendant of Shannon's publication in 1948: "He's one of the great men of the century. Without him, none of the things we know today would exist. The whole digital revolution started with him."

Information Age

Historical period that began in the mid-20th century, characterized by a rapid epochal shift from traditional industry established by the Industrial Revolution to an economy primarily based upon information technology.

A timeline of major milestones of the Information Age, from the first message sent by the Internet protocol suite to global Internet access
Hilbert & López (2011). The World's Technological Capacity to Store, Communicate, and Compute Information. Science, 332(6025), 60–65.
Three stages of the Information Age
A visualization of the various routes through a portion of the Internet.
Apr. 1977: Apple II.

The Information Age was enabled by technology developed in the Digital Revolution, which was itself enabled by building on the developments of the Technological Revolution.

Emerging technologies

For specific emerging technologies, see the list of emerging technologies

Artificial Neural Network with Chip.jpgicial intelligence
3D Printer
Self-replicating 3D printer
Top 30 AI patent applicants in 2016
NASA Fuel cell stack
Solid-state air batteries
3D IC components.
The Semantic Web Stack
RFID Transcievers.
DARPA Power armatura
Agri-robot farming.
Atmo-vortex engines.<ref>This conceptual drawing measures in diameter 200+ m (660 ft.+).</ref>
Electromagnetic weapons.

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has been posited by Jeremy Rifkin and others as part of the third industrial revolution.