Workers in an electronics factory in Shenzhen, China

The electronics industry is the economic sector that produces electronic devices. It emerged in the 20th century and is today one of the largest global industries. Contemporary society uses a vast array of electronic devices that are built in factories operated by the industry, which are almost always partially automated.

Electronic products are primarily assembled from metal–oxide–semiconductor (MOS) transistors and integrated circuits, the latter principally by photolithography and often on printed circuit boards.[citation needed]

Circuit boards are assembled largely using surface-mount technology, which typically involves the automated placement of electronic parts on circuit boards using pick-and-place machines. Surface-mount technology and pick-and-place machines make it possible to assemble large numbers of circuit boards at high speed.

The industry's size, the use of toxic materials, and the difficulty of recycling have led to a series of problems with electronic waste. International regulation and environmental legislation have been developed to address the issues.[citation needed]

The electronics industry consists of various sectors. The central driving force behind the entire electronics industry is the semiconductor industry sector,[1] which has annual sales of over $481 billion as of 2018.[2]


Main article: History of electronic engineering

The electric power industry began in the 19th century, which led to the development of inventions such as gramaphones, radio transmitters and receivers, and television. The vacuum tube was used for early electronic devices, before later being largely supplanted by semiconductor components as the fundamental technology of the industry.[3]

The first working transistor, a point-contact transistor, was invented by John Bardeen and Walter Houser Brattain at Bell Laboratories in 1947, which led to significant research in the field of solid-state semiconductors during the 1950s.[4] This led to the emergence of the home entertainment consumer electronics industry starting in the 1950s, largely due to the efforts of Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo (now Sony) in successfully commercializing transistor technology for a mass market, with affordable transistor radios and then transistorized television sets.[5]

The industry employs large numbers of electronics engineers and electronics technicians to design, develop, test, manufacture, install, and repair electrical and electronic equipment such as communication equipment, medical monitoring devices, navigational equipment, and computers. Common parts manufactured are connectors, system components, cell systems, and computer accessories, and these are made of alloy steel, copper, brass, stainless steel, plastic, steel tubing, and other materials.[6][7]

Consumer electronics

Main article: Consumer electronics

Consumer electronics are products intended for everyday use, most often in entertainment, communications and office productivity. Radio broadcasting in the early 20th century brought the first major consumer product, the broadcast receiver. Later products include personal computers, telephones, MP3 players, cell phones, smart phones, audio equipment, televisions, calculators, GPS automotive electronics, digital cameras and players and recorders using video media such as DVDs, VCRs or camcorders. Increasingly these products 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.

The CEA (Consumer Electronics Association) projected the value of annual consumer electronics sales in the United States to be over $170 billion in 2008.[8] Global annual consumer electronic sales are expected to reach $2.9 trillion by 2020.[9]


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Effects on the environment

Electrical waste contains hazardous, valuable, and scarce materials, and up to 60 elements can be found in complex electronics.

The United States and China are the world leaders in producing electronic waste, each tossing away about 3 million tons each year.[10] China also remains a major e-waste dumping ground for developed countries.[10] The UNEP estimate that the amount of e-waste being produced – including mobile phones and computers – could rise by as much as 500 percent over the next decade in some developing countries, such as India.[11]

Further information: Electronic waste

Increasing environmental awareness has led to changes in electronics design to reduce or eliminate toxic materials and reduce energy consumption. The Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) were released by the European Commission in 2002.

Largest electronics industry sectors

Industry sector Annual revenue Year Ref
Tech industry (high tech) $4,800,000,000,000 2018 [12]
Mobile technology $3,900,000,000,000 2018 [13]
Consumer electronics $1,712,900,000,000 2016 [9]
Semiconductor industry $481,000,000,000 2018 [2]
Television broadcasting services $407,700,000,000 2017 [14]
Power electronics $216,000,000,000 2011 [15]
TFT liquid-crystal displays (TFT LCD) $141,000,000,000 2017 [16]
Video games $137,900,000,000 2018 [17]
Home video film industry $55,700,000,000 2018 [18]

See also



  1. ^ "Annual Semiconductor Sales Increase 21.6 Percent, Top $400 Billion for First Time". Semiconductor Industry Association. 5 February 2018. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Semiconductors – the Next Wave" (PDF). Deloitte. April 2019. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  3. ^ International Directory of Company Histories. Vol. 14. St. James Press. 1996 – via FundingUniverse.
  4. ^ Manuel, Castells (1996). The information age : economy, society and culture. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0631215943. OCLC 43092627.
  5. ^ Hagiwara, Yoshiaki (2001). "Microelectronics for Home Entertainment". In Oklobdzija, Vojin G. (ed.). The Computer Engineering Handbook. CRC Press. p. 41-1. ISBN 978-0-8493-0885-7.
  6. ^ "Industries and Markets Archived 2020-04-12 at the Wayback Machine", Bracalente Manufacturing Group, Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  7. ^ "5g mifi supplier", Kingtop mobile hotspots, Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  8. ^ CEA: Industry Statistics, archived from the original on 2009-04-21
  9. ^ a b "Global Consumer Electronics Market to Reach US$ 2.9 Trillion by 2020 - Persistence Market Research". PR Newswire. Persistence Market Research. 3 January 2017. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  10. ^ a b "Urgent need to prepare developing countries for surges in E-Waste". Archived from the original on 2023-03-06. Retrieved 2019-02-05.
  11. ^ Section, United Nations News Service (2010-02-22). "As e-waste mountains soar, UN urges smart technologies to protect health". United Nations-DPI/NMD - UN News Service Section. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
  12. ^ "IT Industry Outlook 2019". CompTIA. January 2019. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  13. ^ "The Mobile Economy". GSMA Intelligence. 2019. Archived from the original on 24 October 2019. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  14. ^ "Global Television Broadcasting Services Market Worth US$ 753.1 Billion With Key Industry Players A&E Television, BBC, CBS Interactive, CANAL+, AT&T, Channel 4, RTL Group, CenturyLink, 21st Century Fox". MarketWatch. February 14, 2019. Archived from the original on 2019-10-14. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  15. ^ "Power Electronics: A Strategy for Success" (PDF). Government of the United Kingdom. Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. October 2011. Retrieved 11 October 2019. Power Electronics is a £135 billion direct global market
  16. ^ "TFT-LCD Market Size, Share, Growth and Global Forecast to 2023". Research Cosmos. BIS Report Consulting. December 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  17. ^ "Global Games Market Revenues 2018". Newzoo. 30 April 2019. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  18. ^ America, Motion Picture Association of (March 21, 2019). "New Report: Global Theatrical and Home Entertainment Market Reached $96.8 Billion in 2018". PR Newswire. Retrieved 14 October 2019.