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Electronics one of the principal branches of science that deals with the emission of electrons from conductors and semiconductors, with subsequent manipulation of these electrons and construction of electronic devices. The first electronic device was the thermionic valve, or vacuum tube, in which electrons moved in a vacuum, and led to such inventions as radio, television, radar, and computer. The invention of the transistor, around 1948, and the subsequent development of integrated circuits (IC) have brought about revolutionary changes in electronics, which was previously based on the technology of the electron tube. Modern electronic devices are based on minute ICs (silicon chips) which are wafer-thin crystal slices holding tens of thousands of electronic components. The minimisation in power brought about by these developments have allowed electronic circuits to be packaged more densely, making possible compact computers, advanced radar and navigation systems, and other devices that use a very large number of components. It has also brought to the consumer such items as smaller and more reliable radio and television receivers, advanced sound and VIDEO-recording and reproducing systems, microwave ovens, cellular telephones, and personal computers (PC).

Application of electronics in Bangladesh started in the 1930s in the field of communication with the setting up of radio stations, telephone exchanges and wireless communication. During World War II, the technology of wireless communication was upgraded to satisfy military needs and the up-to-date technology was introduced in India. In East Pakistan VHF (very high frequency) telephone was installed in 1960, followed by telex/ teleprinter service in 1970. The first television station was established in 1964. A digital telephone system was introduced in 1983 and mobile phones came in 1992. Domestic electronic appliances and equipment used in Bangladesh include radio, television (TV), VIDEO recorder and player, audio cassette player, microwave oven and cordless telephone. Before 1980 most of these items were imported, except the one-band radio, but after 1980 many assembly plants for radio, television, audio and VIDEO cassette recorders and players were established.

Since 1990 sophisticated equipment like computers, cordless telephones, satellite TV signal receiving equipment etc are being assembled and some spare parts are also being manufactured. A number of multinational companies have set up assembly and manufacturing plants in the country. Local companies in joint collaboration with foreign companies have established assembly and manufacturing plants. At present the total number of such companies is more than sixty. The demand for one/multi-band radios, audio and VIDEO cassette recorders and players, etc are being met by local products, and 50% of the demand for TV, specially colour TV, is being met by local plants but more sophisticated appliances like microwave ovens, electronic cameras and projectors are still imported. Since 1994, when Bangladesh signed the open market agreement, all kinds of commodities including electronic products are being imported freely, which has created a competitive environment, and the people are getting good quality products at a reasonable price.

Electronic industry In Bangladesh the consumer electronics industry is still in its infancy. It made a start in the private sector in 1950 with the setting up of a few assembly plants for producing a limited range of radio sets. In the 1960s more assembly plants were added. With the establishment of a television station in Dhaka in 1964, some of these plants started assembling television sets.

At present, about one dozen companies including many international ones are manufacturing black and white TV sets of different sizes. Many of them assemble colour TV sets. Many local firms have entered into joint ventures with multinational companies for manufacturing automatic fence-guards, battery chargers, etc on sub-contract basis exclusively for export. They are also manufacturing printed circuit boards (PCB) and different types of transformers for use in electronic circuits. Telephone Shilpa Sangstha is doing some bonding, packaging and testing operations on components used in telecommunication in a limited way. Electronic equipment is not yet produced on a commercial basis and at present the electronic industry in Bangladesh is still limited to mainly assembly operations.

The prospect for manufacturing parts and components is very good in the country. Bangladesh has a few PCB industries exporting their products to countries like USA, Australia and those in the EEC. Some foreign and local companies have set up export oriented component industries in the export processing zones for items like light emitting diode (LED), digital display, computer joysticks, transformers, etc.

Trading in electronics shows a bright prospect for the country. Locally assembled as well as imported goods have great internal demand. There are trading shops in every town and even in remote areas because of the availability of electricity through the rural electrification programme. The demand for consumer electronics, especially domestic appliances, is also increasing gradually.

Electronics in industries in control and processing in modern industries, electronics is playing a vital role. The nucleonic control system (NCS) is unique in modern control technology, applied in various manufacturing and processing industries all over the world. In Bangladesh the first NCS was installed in October 1999 in karnafuli paper mills at Chandraghona in kaptai upazila with the assistance of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Other industries like cosmetics, leather, cement, textile, etc also use the electronic process control system. [M Quamruzzaman]