Consumer electronics

A crowd of shoppers in the flatscreen TV section of the big box consumer electronics store Best Buy

Consumer electronics or home electronics are electronic (analog or digital) equipments intended for everyday use, typically in private homes. Consumer electronics include devices used for entertainment (flatscreen TVs, DVD players, video games, remote control cars, etc.), communications (telephones, cell phones, e-mail-capable laptops, etc.), and home-office activities (e.g., desktop computers, printers, paper shredders, etc.). In British English, they are often called brown goods by producers and sellers, to distinguish them from "white goods" which are meant for housekeeping tasks, such as washing machines and refrigerators, although nowadays, these would be considered brown goods, some of these being connected to the Internet.[1][n 1] In the 2010s, this distinction is not always present in large big box consumer electronics stores, which sell both entertainment, communication, and home office devices and kitchen appliances such as refrigerators.

Radio broadcasting in the early 20th century brought the first major consumer product, the broadcast receiver. Later products included telephones, televisions and calculators, then audio and video recorders and players, game consoles, personal computers and MP3 players. In the 2010s, consumer electronics stores often sell GPS, automotive electronics (car stereos), video game consoles, electronic musical instruments (e.g., synthesizer keyboards), karaoke machines, digital cameras, and video players (VCRs in the 1980s and 1990s, followed by DVD players and Blu-ray disc players). Stores also sell smart appliances, digital cameras, camcorders, cell phones, and smartphones. Some of the newer products sold include virtual reality head-mounted display goggles, smart home devices that connect home devices to the Internet and wearable technology.

In the 2010s, most consumer electronics have become based on digital technologies, and have largely merged with the computer industry in what is increasingly referred to as the consumerization of information technology. Some consumer electronics stores, have also begun selling office and baby furniture. Consumer electronics stores may be "brick and mortar" physical retail stores, online stores, or combinations of both. The Consumer Electronics Association estimated the value of 2015 consumer electronics sales at US$220 billion.[3]

History

A radio and TV store in 1961

For its first fifty years the phonograph turntable did not use electronics; the needle and soundhorn were purely mechanical technologies. However, in the 1920s radio broadcasting became the basis of mass production of radio receivers. The vacuum tubes that had made radios practical were used with record players as well, to amplify the sound so that it could be played through a loudspeaker. Television was soon invented, but remained insignificant in the consumer market until the 1950s.

The first practical transistor, a point-contact transistor, was invented by William Shockley, Walter Houser Brattain and John Bardeen at Bell Laboratories in 1947, which led to significant research in the field of solid-state semiconductors in the early 1950s.[4] By 1959, Fairchild Semiconductor had introduced the first planar transistor from which come the origins of Moore's law.[5] The MOSFET (metal-oxide-silicon field-effect transistor), also known as the MOS transistor, was invented by Mohamed Atalla and Dawon Kahng at Bell Labs in 1959.[6][7][8][9] The MOS transistor's advantages include high scalability,[10] affordability,[11] low power consumption, and high density, which enabled Moore's law[12] and revolutionized the electronics industry;[13][14] the MOS transistor is the most common semiconductor device in the world.[8][15]

Integrated circuits (ICs) followed when manufacturers built circuits (usually for military purposes) on a single substrate using electrical connections between circuits within the chip itself. The invention and development of the transistor at Bell Labs, and later developments in semiconductor technology, led to far better and cheaper consumer electronics, such as transistor radios, televisions, and by the 1980s, affordable video game consoles and personal computers that regular middle-class families could buy. As of 2013, billions of MOS transistors are manufactured for electronic devices every day.[8]

Other Languages