Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor Chips (CMOS)

The magical ability to power your mobile phone, tablet, and computer comes from a CMOS chip. These chips require minuscule amounts of power compared to other types of computer chips. They are as small or smaller than other types of chips. However, despite these advantages, it took decades for the technology to gain traction.

Fairchild Semiconductor employee Frank Wanlass described CMOS in a 1963 paper and patented the technology. Fairchild and other companies produced CMOS chips but early versions were slow and more costly to produce than other types of chips, leading to belated adoption.

Digital watches of the 1970s relied on the low-power chips. Eventually, by the late 1970s, Hitachi was using CMOS to produce certain types of RAM. As chips contained ever-more circuits their power need increased dramatically. Consequently, CMOS moved into the mainstream.

Virtually all modern chips are based on CMOS technology. They allow data centers to function with less power, notebooks to run for hours, phones and tablets to function, and even chips embedded into cars to run for extended periods without draining the battery.