I'm not sure what you mean by "operational
computers" unless it means "a computer that isn't
broken." Did you perhaps mean "operational
amplifier" (op-amp)? An op-amp is a small chip
that amplifies a small signal to a larger one.
They are used in radios, stereos, MP3 players,
TVs, DVD players, and other places where you need
to amplify a weak signal (like the pattern of
sound reconstructed from the DVD) and produce a
lot of current (like for speakers).
is an electronic device which only allows current
to flow in one direction. They are sometimes used
in electronic equipment to prevent damage if you
accidentally insert batteries backward. If the
batteries were installed backward, the diode would
block current from flowing, so the device would be
protected from damage. Diodes are also an
important part of most AM radio receivers. In
fact, you can build an AM "crystal" radio with
just a diode, a pair of headphones, and a coil of
wire wrapped around a cardboard tube. The
"crystal" is the diode.
A transistor is an
electronic switch with 3 pins. If you apply a
voltage to one particular pin on the chip, then
electrical current is allowed to flow between two
other pins. Depending on how you connect
transistors together, you can build either digital
logic (like calculators and computers) or
amplifiers. (Op-amps are made from transistors.)
Transistors are the most common electronic device
on earth, and the most important. A single
Itanium microprocessor chip has 2 billion
transistors. So a computer with an Itanium and
some memory has more transistors than there are
people on earth!
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