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Section6.1Crash Course in Electronics

Although it is not necessary to be an electrical engineer in order to understand how logic gates work, some basic concepts will help. This section provides a very brief overview of the fundamental concepts of electronic circuits. We begin with two definitions.


The movement of electrical charge. Electrical charge is measured in coulombs. A flow of one coulomb per second is defined as one ampere,, often abbreviated as one amp. Current only flows in a closed path through an electrical circuit.


The difference in electrical potential between two points in an electrical circuit. One volt is defined as the potential difference between two points on a conductor when one ampere of current flowing through the conductor dissipates one watt of power.

The electronic circuits that make up a computer are constructed from:

  • A power source that provides the electrical power.

  • Passive elements that control current flow and voltage levels.

  • Active elements that switch between various combinations of the power source, passive elements, and other active elements.

We will look at how each of these three categories of electronic components behaves.