What is a microchip?

by Miriam Tocino

If you've been reading Zerus & Ona for a while, you already know about Zerus' guilty pleasure: MICROCHIPS! He wants to eat them anytime, anywhere. All. The. Time.

Even when he's not feeling well!

what is a microchip

Ok, so, you already know that about microchips. But, what are they actually? And how does your computer use microchips?

In this blog post you'll learn:

Now, let's begin with some computer basics for kids.

What is a Microchip?

Microchips (also known as integrated circuits or ICs) are like mini-brains inside your computer and they help it remember information.

They are tiny plates made out of silicon. Microchips come in many shapes and sizes. They can be as small as a few square centimeters or only a few square millimeters.

That means that to see every part in them you need to use a microscope!

zerus and ona computer basics for kids

Uses of Microchips

Microchips are used in all electronic devices around your house and they can be designed to do many different things.

Some microchips are designed to be a calculator. Others can listen to changes in their environment like, for example, in an oven, a heater or an air conditioner.

A temperature sensor sends a signal to a thermostat, which can be programmed to turn it on and off if it's too warm or too cold.

And these are just a few examples! 

Fun Facts about Microchips

In today's world, we're already used to microchips being so small.

But, at the beginnings of computers, there were no microchips at all, and simple calculators would take up entire rooms of space —while being a lot less powerful than your phone or your video game console!

,zerus and ona computer basics for kids

1954: First all-transistor calculator. Photo credit: IBM

The IBM 608 was the first calculator to use microchips in 1954. It was stored inside large cabinets. People could buy it for $83.210 (or rent it for $1,760 a month!), according to IBM's website.

Hooray-bits! You just learned what microchips are, how computers use them, and some fun facts about them.

Now, it's exploration time!

  • Where could these mini-brains be hiding around your house?
  • Are they inside your camera? Your TV? Or, maybe even, your car?
  • Got an old calculator? Could you open it and tinker with it?

Pinpoint a couple of places, come back and let us know in the comments. We'd love to hear from you.

zerus and ona computer basics for kids

Remember that understanding computers is a superpower! And your ideas might help enormously to other humans around.

Lots of Megas from The Binary World,

Zerus & Ona


Complement your reading with what is a pixel, what is an IP address, and download the Zerus gets a Virus crossword to play with your family.


Want to learn more about computers?

Have a look at the Zerus & Ona collection. Our books teach computer basics for kids age 3+ with adorable characters, fun adventures, and a hands-on approach for parents and educators. Visit the shop!