The 555 is an integrated circuit (chip) used in a variety of applications such as timer or multivibrator. The IC was designed by Hans R. Camenzind in 1970 and marketed in 1971 by Signetics (later acquired by Philips). Trade names were SE555 (metal casing) and NE555 (DIP housing), and was nicknamed "The IC Time Machine" 1 ("The Time Machine on a Chip"). This component is still in full use, thanks to its simplicity of use, low price and good stability. Even today Korea's Samsung manufactures over 1 billion units per year (2003).
The 555 timer is one of the most popular and versatile integrated circuits ever produced. It consists of 23 transistors, 2 diodes and 16 resistors on a silicon chip in a dual in-line package (DIP) 8-pin. The same family of timers still have the IC 556, consists of two 555 timers combined in a 14-pin DIP package. The IC 558 is a 16-pin DIP package that combines four timers 555. Also available are ultra low power versions such as IC 7555, which uses fewer external components and has lower power consumption.
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