Technology is a broad term that covers artifacts such as machines and the ways in which they are made. It also describes methods of doing things or a way of organizing people and their work. For example, democracy might be considered a social technology.
Technology has a profound impact on our daily lives. It is important to understand how it works in order to better use it.
This book takes you through the principles that underpin lots of devices, showing how they work through step-by-step explanations and simple graphics. It explains how devices are designed to function and where they get their power.
Each design operates within constraints. Some of these are absolute-physical laws, financial (only so much money is available to invest in the technology), political (local and national regulations), ecological (likely disruption to the natural environment), or ethical (disadvantages for some people, risks to future generations). An optimum design seeks to balance these considerations and make a reasonable compromise.
In the late 1900s people discovered how to fit many of the components that make technology work on small chips. These inventions, known as integrated circuits, gave rise to personal computers, digital cameras, mobile phones and other electronic products.
Often technological innovation occurs as the result of individual inventiveness. But it is also a consequence of the circumstances and values of society at any time. These factors influence whether a new technology will spread or disappear. They also determine whether it will be developed further and in what form.