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What is difference between op amp and transistor?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by freshman7, Dec 4, 2013.

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  1. freshman7


    Dec 4, 2013
    Hello - what is the difference between an op amp and a transistor?

  2. davenn

    davenn Moderator

    Sep 5, 2009
    an Op-Amp IC has a bunch of transistors in it

  3. freshman7


    Dec 4, 2013
    So is an IC like a 555 etc just an Op Amp?
  4. Harald Kapp

    Harald Kapp Moderator Moderator

    Nov 17, 2011
    Generally an IC is an integrated circuit. As the name says, a lot of components are integrated into one chip and offered/used as a single component.
    The components used within an IC typically are semiconductors like diodes and transistors, even resistors and capacitors.
    In principle you could build the same circuit that is integrated into an IC as a discrete citcuit, too. Only that it becomes prohibitively large and some properties may not be achievable because they rely on the small size, tight coupling etc. of the components within an IC.

    That said there are a lot of diffferent types of ICs, each for a specific function. A 555 is a timer and that is something very different from an operational amplifier (OpAmp).

    An OpAmp basically is a difference amplifier with a very high gain and is (almost) useless by itself. Only by adding feedback circuits to a bare OpAmp you create circuits that perform different functions.
    The name OpAmp comes from the early uses of these devices as computing elements in analog computers where they performed the "operation" by "amplifying" the signals according to an algorithm that was programmed by connecting the OpAmps in different ways and using different feedback schemata.
    Early OpAmps were not ICs but were built as modules carrying discrete components or even tubes. A nice writeup of the history of OpAmps is here.

    You want to know more? Read this.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2013
  5. freshman7


    Dec 4, 2013
    Thanks Harald! That helps a lot. Yes I studied the various relays and things to make the logic gates in early computers (even today's chips).
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