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microcontroller

A single chip that contains the processor (the CPU), non-volatile memory for the program (ROM or flash), volatile memory for input and output (RAM), a clock and an I/O control unit. Available in numerous sizes and architectures, and also called a "computer on a chip," billions of microcontroller units (MCUs) are embedded each year in products from toys to appliances to automobiles. For example, modern cars and trucks employ several dozen microcontrollers in their various driving and safety systems (see embedded system and automotive systems). See CPU, RAM, ROM and clock.










Motorola 6801 - One of the First
Introduced in 1978, the 6801 was one of the first semiconductor products to claim the "computer on a chip" moniker. The magnified photos show all 256 bytes of RAM memory with barely six bits revealed at the bottom (400x).






They Don't Get Much Smaller
These microcontrollers from Microchip are used in myriad applications and cost as little as 50 cents. We're not great technology predictors. In 1949, Popular Mechanics speculated that future computers would only weigh "one and a half tons"!






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