You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-13, which are based on Reading Passage 1 below.
The microelectronic revolution
[A]Vacuum tubes were a considerable advance on relay switches, but machines like the ENIAC were notoriously unreliable. The modern term for a problem that holds up a computer program is a “bug.” Popular legend has it that this word entered the vocabulary of computer programmers sometime in the 1950s when moths, attracted by the glowing lights of vacuum tubes, flew inside machines like the ENIAC, caused a short circuit, and brought work to a juddering halt. But there were other problems with vacuum tubes too. They consumed enormous amounts of power: the ENIAC used about 2000 times as much electricity as a modern laptop. And they took up huge amounts of space. Military needs were driving the development of machines like the ENIAC, but the sheer size of vacuum tubes had now become a real problem. ABC had used 300 vacuum tubes, Colossus had 2000, and the ENIAC had 18,000. The ENIAC’s designers had boasted that its calculating speed was “at least 500 times as great as that of any other existing computing machine.” But developing computers that were an order of magnitude more powerful still would have needed hundreds of thousands or even millions of vacuum tubes—which would have been far too costly, unwieldy, and unreliable. So a new technology was urgently required.
[B]The solution appeared in 1947 thanks to three physicists working at Bell Telephone Laboratories (Bell Labs). John Bardeen (1908–1991), Walter Brattain (1902–1987), and William Shockley (1910–1989) were then helping Bell to develop new technology for the American public telephone system, so the electrical signals that carried phone calls could be amplified more easily and carried further. Shockley, who was leading the team, believed he could use semiconductors (materials such as germanium and silicon that allow electricity to flow through them only when they’ve been treated in special ways) to make a better form of amplifier than the vacuum tube. When his early experiments failed, he set Bardeen and Brattain to work on the task for him. Eventually, in December 1947, they created a new form of amplifier that became known as the point-contact transistor. Bell Labs credited Bardeen and Brattain with the transistor and awarded them a patent. This enraged Shockley and prompted him to invent an even better design, the junction transistor, which has formed the basis of most transistors ever since.
[C]Like vacuum tubes, transistors could be used as amplifiers or as switches. But they had several major advantages. They were a fraction the size of vacuum tubes (typically about as big as a pea), used no power at all unless they were in operation, and were virtually 100 percent reliable. The transistor was one of the most important breakthroughs in the history of computing and it earned its inventors the world’s greatest science prize, the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics. By that time, however, the three men had already gone their separate ways. John Bardeen had begun pioneering research into superconductivity, which would earn him a second Nobel Prize in 1972. Walter Brattain moved to another part of Bell Labs.
[D]William Shockley decided to stick with the transistor, eventually forming his own corporation to develop it further. His decision would have extraordinary consequences for the computer industry. With a small amount of capital, Shockley set about hiring the best brains he could find in American universities, including young electrical engineer Robert Noyce (1927–1990) and research chemist Gordon Moore (1929–). It wasn’t long before Shockley’s idiosyncratic and bullying management style upset his workers. In 1956, eight of them—including Noyce and Moore—left Shockley Transistor to found a company of their own, Fairchild Semiconductor, just down the road. Thus began the growth of “Silicon Valley,” the part of California centered on Palo Alto, where many of the world’s leading computer and electronics companies have been based ever since.
[E]It was in Fairchild’s California building that the next breakthrough occurred—although, somewhat curiously, it also happened at exactly the same time in the Dallas laboratories of Texas Instruments. In Dallas, a young engineer from Kansas named Jack Kilby (1923–2005) was considering how to improve the transistor. Although transistors were a great advance on vacuum tubes, one key problem remained. Machines that used thousands of transistors still had to be hand wired to connect all these components together. That process was laborious, costly, and error prone. Wouldn’t it be better, Kilby reflected, if many transistors could be made in a single package? This prompted him to invent the “monolithic” integrated circuit (IC), a collection of transistors and other components that could be manufactured all at once, in a block, on the surface of a semiconductor. Kilby’s invention was another step forward, but it also had a drawback: the components in his integrated circuit still had to be connected by hand. While Kilby was making his breakthrough in Dallas, unknown to him, Robert Noyce was perfecting almost exactly the same idea at Fairchild in California. Noyce went one better, however: he found a way to include the connections between components in an integrated circuit, thus automating the entire process.
[F]Integrated circuits, as much as transistors, helped to shrink computers during the 1960s. In 1943, IBM boss Thomas Watson had reputedly quipped: “I think there is a world market for about five computers.” Just two decades later, the company and its competitors had installed around 25,000 large computer systems across the United States. As the 1960s wore on, integrated circuits became increasingly sophisticated and compact. Soon, engineers were speaking of large-scale integration (LSI), in which hundreds of components could be crammed onto a single chip, and then very large-scale integration (VLSI), when the same chip could contain thousands of components.
[G]The logical conclusion of all this miniaturization was that, someday, someone would be able to squeeze an entire computer onto a chip. In 1968, Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore had left Fairchild to establish a new company of their own. With integration very much in their minds, they called it Integrated Electronics or Intel for short. Originally they had planned to make memory chips, but when the company landed an order to make chips for a range of pocket calculators, history headed in a different direction. One of their engineers, Marcian Edward (Ted) Hoff (1937–), realized that instead of making a range of specialist chips for a range of calculators, he could make one chip that could be programmed to work in them all. Thus was born the general-purpose, single chip computer or microprocessor—and that brought about the next phase of the computer revolution.
Do the following statements agree with the information given in reading passage 1?
In boxes 1-8 on your answer sheet, write
TRUE if the statement agrees with the information.
FALSE if the statement contradicts with the information.
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this.
- Bug is used to talk about something that causes issues in the computer.
- ENIAC used 1000 times more electricity as needed by the modern laptops.
- The need for a new technology came because people got bored from the previous technology.
- The junction transistor was invented by John Bardeen.
- Transistors could be used only as amplifiers.
- John Bardeen won a Nobel Prize in the year 1956 for introducing semiconductors.
- Robert Noyce was a research chemist hired by William Shockley.
- Silicon Valey is situated in Palo Alto.
Complete the sentences below.
Write ONE WORD ONLY for each answer.
- Monolithic integrated circuits were being made by (9)________________.
- The development of integrated circuits led to (10)____________________ and (11)______________ integration.
- Integrated Electronics was founded by(12) ________________ and (13) ____________.
9. Jack Kilby
10. large scale integration
11. very large scale
12. Robert Noyce
13. Gordon Moore