A microcontroller has been described as a ‘computer on a chip’. This is an oversimplification, for a microcontroller lacks much of the hardware, such as the disk drives, monitor and keyboard of a computer but, at the same time, it is more than just a microprocessor.

A microcontroller is a single VLSI chip which holds not only a central processing unit (CPU) but a number of other units too. The CPU is, of course, a microprocessor. This is usually simpler than the microprocessors found in microcomputers but it is more than adequate for the tasks it has to perform. The chip always carries the system clock, and one or more blocks of memory.

The microcontroller has a number of single-bit inputs and outputs. By single-bit, we mean that ...

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