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An integrated circuit is where multiple components are included onto a single piece of semiconductor and packaged into a single component sometimes known as a silicon chip (or chip for short). These start from fairly basic circuits with only a few components to a computer processor with billions of transistors in a single chip. The ones listed here are some of the basic ones, but they form the building blocks of a number of useful circuits.
The 555 timer IC is an 8 pin chip that can be used as either a timer or a multivibrator. As a timer this can be useful to introduce a delay or to extend the duration that something remains on (eg. light remains on for a minute after a button is pressed). In multivibrator mode many applications where a simple pulsing signal is required such as flashing lights or basic tone generation.
The 555 timer is still useful today in many of the same ways from when it was first available in 1971. It is a great first IC for those new to electronics and can still be useful for the more advanced electronic projects where a cheap simple timer is required.
The 741 Operational Amplifier is a simple amplifier circuit that can be used to increase the size of a signal. Intended for amplifying audio signals the 741 is useful as a first stage amplifier for increasing an input signal to one that can be used to drive a small speaker.
Please view the copyright information regarding use of the circuits.