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What is electronics?

Electronic devicesElectronic devicesElectrons are tiny particles that whizz around the centre (nucleus) of atoms. An electric current is a flow of electrons. This flow of electrons can be controlled so that it can do useful jobs. The way this is done is called electronics. Nearly all the machines we use in our everyday lives—computers, phones, TV remote controls, games consoles, calculators, radios, cars and so on—use electronics to make them work.

LEDs (light-emitting diodes)LEDs (light-emitting diodes)

Electronic circuits

Electronics uses electrical circuits. A circuit is produced when a flow of electrons—an electric current—moves along a complete path of conducting material—say, a wire—from a power source, such as a battery, and back again. An electronic circuit links together electronic components (for example, resistors, capacitors, diodes and transistors) in an electrical circuit. 

Electronic components are designed to change the flow of electricity through the circuit in some way. They can do this because they are all made of semiconductors. A semiconductor is a material (such as silicon) that can act as both a good conductor of electricity and as an insulator, a material that does not conduct electricity at all.

The world’s first successful programme-controlled, automatic computer, named the Z3, was invented by German engineer Konrad Zuse in 1941. It was the first fully functioning electro-mechanical (but not electronic) computer.

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